Donald Trump can’t wait to see Kim Jong Un again, after the U.S. President received a “nice letter” from the tyrannical North Korean despot.
In a Thursday tweet, Trump thanked Kim for returning the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers, and said “I look forward to seeing you soon” — despite warnings from his own intelligence agencies that North Korea began development on a new ballistic missile capable of hitting the continental U.S. after the pair met in June.
Trump may have been referring to a letter Kim sent in mid-July, a month after the leaders met in Singapore.
Trump’s message came hours after Vice President Mike Pence received the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers as they landed in Hawaii — a development Pence called “tangible progress to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula.”
However, while the White House is keen to cite the remains as evidence of progress towards denuclearization, experts remains unconvinced.
“Hopefully the remains are real,” Robert Kelly, an expert in international relations at Pusan National University in South Korea, told VICE News, noting that returns from North Korea to the U.S. and Japan in the past have not always been authentic.
“Naturally, Trump doesn’t care and will talk about it loudly before any kind of verification,” Kelly said. “But strategically, this is not movement on the issues that really divide the two sides. It’s a sideshow, and I worry that it is creating the illusion of progress.”
Officials said Wednesday that the remains are “likely American” but they were accompanied only by a single dog-tag. As such, forensic specialists warned it could take decades before all the remains are identified. But in the meantime, the White House is happy to call it a win.
“President Trump’s presidency is yet again showing a smoke and mirrors foreign policy, aimed at securing the illusion of a win for his self-interest, while American national interest is dealt a major loss,” Brian Klass, a political scientist at the London School of Economics, told VICE News.
It was revealed earlier this week that Pyongyang has been building at a missile site near the capital and that the regime continues to develop one or two new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Along with the detected activity, U.S. officials believe Kim is operating a secret nuclear enrichment facility, where he is producing fissile material for his nuclear arsenal.
“It’s not hyperbole to note that Trump’s bizarre adoration of dictators who falsely flatter him is a national security risk,” Klass added. “He continues to praise Kim Jong-un even as North Korea is reportedly accelerating its nuclear program, making new missiles, and continuing to pose an existential threat to several major American cities.”
Cover image: Donald Trump speaks at a 'Make America Great Again' rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 22, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)