North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has given his first timeline for denuclearization.
Kim says he’s aiming for the end of President Donald Trump’s first term, Seoul officials said on Thursday.
Kim told South Korean officials his faith in Trump was “unchanged” and that he wanted denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an end to hostile relations with the United States.
President Trump welcomed Kim’s remarks in a tweet.
“Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!” the president wrote.
You may recall, President Trump had previously hailed his landmark June 12 summit with Kim as a success and said the North Korean nuclear threat was over, despite little evidence to back that assertion.
North Korean experts say Kim desperately wants some move toward peace with the United States.
“I think if were able to do that, I think we can go back to Kim Jong Un and say okay the Korean War is over. But at the same time you need to give us some sort of declaration of the size, scope, and scale of your nuclear weapons and missile programs,” said Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest.
Weeks ago, President Trump stopped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from making a planned trip to the North, saying the timing was not right.
Pompeo, visiting New Delhi, said there was a long road ahead and “an enormous amount of work to do” on the denuclearization process.
“It is the case there is still an enormous amount of work to do,” said Pompeo. “We haven’t had any nuclear tests, we haven’t had any missile tests, which we consider a good thing. But the work of convincing Chairman Kim to make the strategic shift that we talked for a brighter future for the people of North Korea continues.”
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20 for a third summit and discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said a day after meeting Kim.
The summit could provide renewed momentum to talks over denuclearization between North Korea and the United States.
US Charges North Korea Operative For Hacking Sony Pictures & Banks
Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced charges Thursday against an alleged hacker for the North Korean government in connection with a series of major cyberattacks including the 2014 assault on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
This is the first time the United States has brought such charges against a Pyongyang operative.
Park Jin Hyok, officials said, is accused of being part of a conspiracy to hack on behalf of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, the military intelligence agency that controls most of the country’s cyber capabilities.
“North Korea’s economy is the size of Vermont about $11 billion dollars. They can barely feed their own people. Yet their cyber capabilities are world class,” said Kazianis.
He and other unidentified operatives are accused of being members of the Lazarus Group, which also has been implicated in the audacious attempt to steal $1 billion from the Bangladesh Bank in 2016, and to the WannaCry 2.0 virus that affected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries last year.
Lazarus Group hackers, officials say, broke into the bank’s computers and manipulated its access to a global electronic messaging system known as SWIFT, which banks use to send and receive money transfers.
Pyongyang has denied allegations of hacking.
The Treasury Department on Thursday also imposed sanctions against Park and the Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a state-owned firm that employed him in Dalian, China.
“We will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests and generate illicit revenues in violation of our sanctions,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States is committed to holding the regime accountable for its cyberattacks and other crimes and destabilizing activities.”