President Donald Trump tried to keep his planned talks with North Korea’s leader on track with reassuring words — then appeared to threaten “total decimation” if Kim Jong Un fails to reach a deal with the U.S. on nuclear arms.
Trump, responding to North Korea’s sudden threat on Tuesday to pull out of scheduled June talks, promised that Kim would remain in power and his country would get “very rich” if he abandons his nuclear weapons program. But the president appeared to issue his own warning if the two leaders fail to reach a deal.
Trump’s comments came after national security adviser John Bolton referred recently to the “Libyan model” for a North Korean pact. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi agreed to shut down his nation’s fledgling nuclear program in 2003 so that sanctions against his country would be lifted. He was killed in 2011 by rebel forces backed by the U.S. and its allies.
North Korea called Bolton’s reference insulting and “sinister.” Pyongyang has in the past pointed to Gaddafi’s experience as a reason to maintain its nuclear weapons program.
“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” Trump said Thursday in the Oval Office, The Washington Post reported.
“The Libyan model was a much different model … If you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation — we went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place [in North Korea] if we don’t make a deal, most likely,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Trump appeared confused about what Bolton meant by the “Libyan model.” Bolton was referring to Libya allowing international and American observers to monitor sites as it dismantled its weapons program. Trump seemed to think the “Libyan model” was the NATO intervention in Libya that led to Gaddafi’s downfall.
“This with Kim Jong Un would be something where he would be there,” said Trump, who promised the leader would have “protections that are very strong.” He “would be running his country. His country would be very rich.”
Trump indicated he believes his meeting with Kim willl take place. Korean representatives have been negotiating details “as though nothing happened,” Trump said, Reuters reported.
Pyongyang called off high-level talks with Seoul to protest recent joint military exercises by the U.S. with South Korea.