Trump asked Kim Jong-un to give up more than Yongbyon complex in Hanoi summit, Bolton says

Posted on : 2020-06-22 16:38 KST Modified on : 2020-06-22 16:49 KST
Former national security advisor’s memoir claims US president offered partial sanctions relief in return
“The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” by John Bolton, former White House national security advisor
“The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” by John Bolton, former White House national security advisor

John Bolton, former White House national security advisor, claimed in his new memoir that US President Donald Trump asked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for more than a closure of the Yongbyon nuclear complex during their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, at the end of February 2019. According to Bolton, Trump suggested he would consider reciprocating with partial sanctions relief.

The Hankyoreh acquired a copy of Bolton’s memoir, titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” on June 21. According to the memoir, Kim emphasized during his summit with Trump at the Metropole hotel on Feb. 28 how big of a concession Yongbyon was and how much attention it would get in the American media. But Trump asked Kim if he could go beyond closing Yongbyon and suggested that sanctions relief could be only partial and not complete.

“This was beyond doubt the worst moment of the meeting. If Kim Jong-un had said yes there, they might have had a deal, disastrously for America. Fortunately, he wasn’t biting, saying he was getting nothing,” Bolton wrote.

Trump continued to press Kim to eliminate the long-range missiles capable of striking the US and then asked Bolton, who was at the table, “John, what do you think?” Bolton took that opportunity to say that there should be a “full baseline declaration of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic-missile programs.” Kim responded by saying that step-by-step movement would ultimately lead to a “comprehensive picture.” Rather than immediately presenting the endgame of complete denuclearization, as the US wanted, Kim was apparently suggesting that the two countries move forward gradually under an action-for-action approach.

“[Kim] complained [. . .] that North Korea had no legal guarantees to safeguard its security, and Trump asked what kind of guarantees the North wanted. There were no diplomatic relations, 70 years of hostility and eight months of personal relations, Kim answered. [. . .] What would happen if a US warship entered North Korea territorial waters? he asked, and Trump suggested Kim call him,” Bolton recounted in his memoir.

Trump was more preoccupied with Cohen’s testimony than N. Korea in Hanoi

It just so happened that the Hanoi summit took place while Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, was testifying before Congress. Trump reportedly stayed up late the evening before the summit to watch coverage of the testimony and even canceled a preliminary briefing scheduled for the next morning. Trump also asked his advisors “whether it was a bigger story if we got a small deal or if we walked away.” “I thought walking away was a far bigger story,” Bolton recalled.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

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