In June, fresh from his landmark meeting with Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump confidently took to Twitter to declare that "there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." But a new report from U.S. intelligence officials claims the communist country is already considering ways to conceal key information about its nuclear program from the United States. But is North Korea still making nuclear weapons? Intelligence agencies reportedly think the country may have actually increased production efforts.
U.S. intelligence agencies aren't convinced that North Korea will actually follow through on its most recent promise to denuclearize. In fact, they believe the country has secretly increased its production of enriched uranium, a type of nuclear weapon fuel, according to a report from NBC News. Intelligence officials also believe the country has no plans to surrender all of its nuclear stockpile and is instead looking for ways to hide just how many nuclear weapons and production facilities it has amassed, according to the Washington Post.
More than a dozen intelligence officials told NBC News they viewed North Korea as "a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival."
In the weeks since his summit with Kim, President Trump had repeatedly claimed the meeting was a success, going so far as to claim that the long-time nuclear threat was, in fact, no more. But the president may be taking a more cautious tone in light of recent reports. In an interview with Fox News, Trump admitted that it was "possible" his deal with Kim would fall through.
"I made a deal with him, I shook hands with him, I really believe he means it," Trump told Fox News. "Now, is it possible? Have I been in deals, have you been in things where, people didn't work out? It's possible."
The president went on to attempt to walk back his role in providing concessions to North Korea at the summit. "We gave nothing," Trump said. "Think of this: What did I do, really, when you think of it? I went there. So the papers say, 'He went' oh, meaning I went to Singapore. So, we had a meeting. We didn’t do anything."
But Trump had made concessions. Most notably, the decision to end the United States' joint military exercises with South Korea. According to Reuters, Trump called them "provocative" when announcing that he'd agreed to halt them, using a line of argument often employed by North Korea and which the United States had long rejected.
Although no specific deal emerged from the president's summit with Kim, it was reported that the two leaders had agreed to "work toward" denuclearization, NBC News reported. But North Korean leaders have, as many outlets pointed out, pledged to denuclearize the country on multiple occasions over the last few decades with little follow through.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, however, appeared to dismiss reports of concern among U.S. intelligence agencies and officials over North Korea's willingness to denuclearize during an interview Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. He maintained that, with proper cooperation, the United States could dismantle North Korea's stash of nuclear weapons within a year. "We have developed a program," Bolton said. "Physically, we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year."
But Bolton freely admitted that the program had not yet been implemented and that its success would require North Korea's "full disclosure of all chemical and biological, nuclear programs, ballistic missile sites."
The question of whether or not Pyongyang plans to cooperate with denuclearization efforts still remains.