Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and former Vice President Joe Biden slammed U.S. President Donald Trump during Tuesday’s Democrat presidential debate over his handling of negotiations to denuclearize North Korea.
Retired Adm. Harry Harris, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea who served as the top commander for the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), has asserted that Trump’s talks with dictator Kim Jong-un aimed at the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea have averted war.
Even key House Democrats, led by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) in a rare show of bipartisanship, have come out in support of Trump’s talks with Kim.
During the debate Tuesday, hosted by CBS News, the moderators asked Klobuchar if she would meet with the North Korean dictator.
The Minnesota Democrat responded:
I would, but not in the way this president has done it. He literally thinks he can go over and bring a hot-dish to the dictator next door, and he thinks everything is going to be fine. He has not done it with our allies. He has literally just hastily called summits and run off. That is no way to do it, and as you can see, North Korea is emboldened. They’re still launching missiles.
Echoing Klobuchar, Biden argued that “you don’t negotiate with a dictator.”
“He gave this dictator — he’s a thug — legitimacy,” the former vice president claimed.
Echoing the 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the American intelligence community, U.S. national security experts indicated that President Trump inherited a pressing near-term nuclear threat from North Korea when he took office.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration was able to avert war with the country, retired Adm. Harris declared during his June 2018 confirmation hearing to serve as the U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
“I’ve spoken in the past about the need to bring Kim to his senses and not his knees, and I think the president’s efforts in Singapore did just that,” Harris told lawmakers.
Although he stressed the need to remain vigilant, Harris proclaimed that the world is in a “dramatically” better place as a result of the first Trump-Kim denuclearization summit.
President Trump has held two historic summits with Kim, including one in Singapore in June 2018, followed by the most recent meeting in February 2019 in Vietnam.
The first Trump-Kim meeting led to a joint declaration that asserts Kim’s allegedly “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea remain ongoing.
Despite the two historic Trump-Kim meetings, the U.S. has failed to convince North Korea to drop its nuclear program.
The U.S. has vowed to keep its maximum pressure sanctions campaign on North Korea until the country gives up its nuclear efforts.
President Trump is pushing for denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief and security guarantees.
The latest World Wide Threat Assessment, issued in January 2019, noted:
Pyongyang has not conducted any nuclear-capable missile or nuclear tests in more than a year, has declared its support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and has reversibly dismantled portions of its WMD [weapons of mass destruction’ infrastructure.
However, North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and the IC [intelligence community] continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities. North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival.
In late 2019, the North carried out several smaller weapons tests in what was considered an attempt to pressure the U.S. into agreeing to sanctions relief.