ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Trump Is in Denial About North Korea

US President Donald Trump's insistence that negotiations with North Korea are "going well" is directly contradicted by US intelligence findings about the country's nuclear program. Trump needs to put substance ahead of spectacle – and US allies ahead of his own fragile ego – before it is too late.

ATLANTA – No one yet knows what deals US President Donald Trump may have struck with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their private two-hour meeting in Helsinki. But it is already clear that Trump’s self-congratulations for striking a deal to “denuclearize” the Korean Peninsula during his Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un are ringing hollow. In addition to backsliding in its working-level negotiations with the United States, the Kim regime has continued to solidify its position as a nuclear-weapons state. The master of the Kremlin is sure to have taken note of this.

North Korea specialists have long been skeptical that Kim would ever give up his nuclear arsenal, and recent evidence supports their judgment. Reports citing US intelligence officials indicate that the North is pressing ahead with its nuclear-weapons program, by ramping up missile and enriched-uranium production and concealing the size of its nuclear inventory.

Anyone who has followed affairs on the Korean Peninsula has seen this movie before. After all, Kim’s father and grandfather wrote the script decades ago. Since the 1970s, the Kims’ regime has repeatedly expressed its desire for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, signed non-proliferation agreements, and negotiated with the US and South Korea – all while pursuing its nuclear-weapons program. In this latest rerun, Kim has even reused his father’s special effects. In May, he blew up a nuclear test site with the same cinematic flair that Kim Jong-il displayed when he dynamited a nuclear reactor’s cooling tower ten years ago.

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