WASHINGTON, June 30: Bruised US-India ties are part of the collateral damage Washington is shrugging off as it scrambles to fulfill President Trump’s optimism over a deal with North Korea, which is reporting to be cheating on its agreement to denuclearize.
The Trump administration earlier this week dumped a much-anticipated and much-deferred US-India “2+2 dialogue” + on July 6 in Washington, primarily because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is rushing to Pyongyang this week to follow-up what the US believes is North Korea’s backsliding from pledge to denuclearize. The urgency of his mission is underscored by reports that North Korea is continuing to make improvements and advances to its nuclear infrastructure, contrary to earlier optimistic assertions that is dismantling them.
US experts from the group 38 North who track developments in North Korea are saying that latest commercial satellite imagery from June 21 + , about ten days after the Trump-Kim summit, “indicates that improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center are continuing at a rapid pace.” US intelligence agencies are concurring broadly, and much to the Trump administration’s embarrassment, have leaked to news outlets that North Korea has increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months and is essentially cheating the US.
“There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US.” NBC News quoted an unnamed US official said to have been briefed on the intelligence. Several experts and former administration officials, who have long-experienced North Korea’s tactics and strategy and warned that Trump is being snookered, are reminding the administration that Pyongyang will never give up nuclear weapons it sees as central to its survival, and the only thing it seeks is “nuclear acceptance, not disarmament.”
All this has resulted in Pompeo having to head back to Pyongyang this week even as Trump has put engagement with Moscow on top of his priority list, leaving not just India but a whole host of friends and allies in the dust. State Department officials though insisted that the US-India relationship is a “major priority for this administration” and “India’s central role in US national security is enshrined in the President’s National Security Strategy.”
But they were largely reading from the Obama playbook, and like New Delhi, lower levels of the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy can barely keep pace with the country’s mercurial President and his quicksilver impulses. (TNN)