President Trump declared Wednesday that there is “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” as he returned to Washington, offering a rosy assessment of a summit with the leader of a nation that still possesses nuclear weapons.
“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” the president said on Twitter.
In a separate tweet, he said that North Korea is no longer the United States’ most dangerous problem, as President Barack Obama had characterized it upon leaving office.
Trump’s tweets followed a high-profile summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that produced a promise to “denuclearize” the Korean Peninsula but was scant on details.
The president’s tweets came shortly after Air Force One landed at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.
Trump’s assessment comes as lawmakers, analysts and allies have hailed the effort but questioned the substance of what was achieved.
The president’s tweets on Wednesday were ridiculed by some Democratic lawmakers and analysts, who suggested that North Korea remains a threat.
“This is truly delusional,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) wrote on Twitter. “It has same arsenal today as 48 hours ago. Does he really think his big photo-op ended the DPRK’s nuclear program? Hope does not equal reality.”
Richard N. Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said “the summit changed nothing.”
“Worse yet, overselling the summit makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on NK to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles,” Haas wrote on Twitter.
A brief document signed by Trump and Kim provided virtually no detail beyond the stated commitment to “denuclearize,” a promise that Pyongyang has made and ignored many times in the past.
Even as they offered measured praise for Trump’s diplomatic efforts, congressional Republicans have emphasized the difficult road that remains and pressed for more details of what exactly the president agreed to with Kim.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief senators on the substance of what the two nations discussed, including whether U.S. troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula would remain.
“I have no idea” whether Trump secured anything of substance, said Corker, the retiring chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “At this juncture, I don’t think we know enough to challenge or celebrate.”
In a later tweet Wednesday, after returning to the White House, Trump defended a major concession made to North Korea while he was in Singapore: that the United States would halt joint military exercises with South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula.
“We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!” the president wrote.
In his earlier tweets, Trump called his meeting with Kim “an interesting and very positive experience.”
He also said that before he took office last year, “people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea.”
“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!” the president wrote.
Obama, as he left office, warned Trump that the North Korean nuclear and missile programs were likely to be the most urgent problem he would confront, according to a March New York Times report.
At a news conference in Singapore after nearly five hours of talks there with Kim, Trump said he “knows for a fact” that North Korea is serious about denuclearization this time and that Kim “wants to do the right thing.” The work of putting meat on the bare bones of the agreement will begin quickly, he said, and “once you start the process, it means it’s pretty much over.”
Talks are to be led on the U.S. side by Pompeo and, according to the agreement, a “relevant, high-level” North Korean official. But no specifics of a future path were outlined. There was no mention of a declaration of North Korea’s nuclear assets, which normally precedes any arms-control negotiation, or of timelines or deadlines.
Karen DeYoung and David Nakamura contributed to this report.