“I don’t want talk about increasing sanctions, they’re strong,” President Donald Trump, pictured here with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said on Thursday regarding North Korea. | Dien Bien/Getty Images
President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday that North Korea is not ready to completely wind down its nuclear weapons program because, telling Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he understands how much work the country has put into its arsenal.
Trump spoke with Hannity following two days of meetings on denuclearization with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. That summit was abruptly cut short Thursday afternoon after it became clear that no deal could be reached.Story Continued Below
In a clip of Trump’s interview that aired on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said that Kim only “wanted to denuke certain areas, and I wanted everything.”
“The sanctions are there, and I didn’t want to give up the sanctions unless we had a real program, and they’re not ready for that and I understand that fully, I really do,” he continued. “I mean, they spent a lot of time building it. But that doesn’t mean the world has to be happy. But I wanted them to denuke.”
Trump said in a press conference following the summit that Kim demanded total relief from sanctions in exchange for incremental steps toward denuclearization, something he was unwilling to agree to.
Sign up for our must-read newsletter on what’s driving the afternoon in Washington.
By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.
“They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that,” he told reporters.
Even in walking away from a deal in Hanoi, Trump signaled that his personal relationship with Kim had impacted his thinking on U.S. policy towards North Korea. Asked by a reporter from South Korea if he planned on heaping more sanctions on North Korea to pressure Kim back to the negotiating table, the president said that he was seeing things from a new perspective.
“I don’t want talk about increasing sanctions, they’re strong,” he said before wrapping up his press conference. “They have a lot of great people in North Korea that have to live also, and that’s important to me. I would say this, my whole attitude changed a lot because I got to know, as you know, Chairman Kim very well, and they have a point of view also.”
This article tagged under:
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.