AP FACT CHECK: Trump distorts NKorea aim to ‘denuclearize’

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his aides are leaving a false impression about the extent of North Korea’s plans to give up its nuclear weapons.

They say North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has basically agreed to “denuclearization.” In fact, Kim’s announcement Friday before summits with the U.S. and South Korea is more limited, agreeing to freeze missile and nuclear weapons tests and close one nuclear facility already believed to have been rendered unusable.

TRUMP: “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!” — tweet Sunday.

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KELLYANNE CONWAY, White House counselor:  “The American people certainly do like what is going on, including this president making huge strides in short order towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.” — remarks Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

THE FACTS: They’re misrepresenting the extent of North Korea’s intentions to “denuclearize,” a term that holds different meanings to the two sides. Key lawmakers also are skeptical Kim will fulfill even his limited pledge.

South Korea, set to meet North Korea this week, has said Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But the North for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops from the Korean Peninsula and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.