A senior White House official said on Thursday that while it “wasn’t helpful” for the North Koreans to call the vice president of the United States a “political dummy” and threaten America with nuclear war, it wasn’t rhetoric alone that doomed Donald Trump’s planned nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
Instead, speaking to reporters in a background briefing, the official aired a range of grievances about the Trump administration’s dealings with North Korea in the lead-up to the June 12 meeting—only some of which had been previously disclosed. They amounted to evidence of “a profound lack of good faith.”
The summit could have been canceled for any number of other reasons—one being that the U.S. might ultimately have surmised from conversations with the North Koreans that a summit would have been a waste of time. But the briefing offered at least the first sustained case from the administration about why it pulled out.
North Korea, the official noted, had left “a trail of broken promises” since March 8, when Trump announced his intention to meet with Kim. That announcement came after a South Korean delegation to Washington informed the president that the North Korean leader was committed to denuclearization and willing to halt his nuclear and missile tests while U.S.-South Korea military exercises proceeded. First North Korea backtracked on the military exercises by furiously objecting last week to a routine joint air-force drill, the official noted. Then, after agreeing during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest visit to Pyongyang to send representatives to Singapore to work out logistics for the summit, the North Koreans stood up their U.S. counterparts without explanation. The American advance team “waited and they waited. The North Koreans never showed up,” the official said.