The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump and Kim Vow 'Complete Denuclearization' of Korean Peninsula; U.S. Suspends Military Exercises

President Trump concluded a historic meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, on Tuesday, saying that denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would begin “very quickly.”

In a televised ceremony held in Singapore, the two leaders signed a joint statement that Trump called “comprehensive.” In the statement, Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea, and Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

But the statement was short on details and did not lay out potential next steps or a timetable.

Trump said he “developed a very special bond” with Kim and proclaimed the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation. “Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war,” Trump said at a news conference in Singapore. “We’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations,” the president said.

But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons, saying that would be worked out in future talks.” We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said of the process to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

Trump announced that he will order an end to regular “war games” that the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.
Trump called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said. South Korea’s presidential office seemed blindsided by the announcement on the joint exercises. “We need to try to understand what President Trump said,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

In a carefully choreographed encounter at the beginning of the summit, Trump and Kim strode toward each other, arms extended, in the red-carpeted reception area of a Singapore hotel built on the site of a British colonial outpost. It was the first time a sitting American president and North Korean leader had ever met. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Politico, Washington Post, NBC News
Related:
Full Text of the Document Signed by Trump and Kim
Washington Post: ‘A Great Honor’: In Bid for History, Trump Flatters North Korea’s Totalitarian Leader

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Why Trump should take it slow with Kim Jong Un: “Beyond the declaration, the parties need to come up with a plan for what needs to happen after the summit so that the odds for success are better this time around,” said Stephen Pomper and Jon Wolfstahl in Politico. “Here again, the plan needs to be informed by a healthy dose of realism. It took Pyongyang 70 years to acquire a nuclear capability that it regards as fundamental to its security, and there are limits to how far and how fast it will go down a new path.”

The terrible arguments against the constitutionality of the Mueller investigation: President Trump has claimed the special counsel’s investigation unconstitutional several times, said George Conway in Lawfare. “He didn’t explain what his argument was, or where he got it, but a good guess is that it came from some recent writings by a well-respected conservative legal scholar and co-founder of the Federalist Society, professor Steven Calabresi. Unfortunately for the president, these writings are no more correct than the spelling in his original tweet. And in light of the president’s apparent embrace of Calabresi’s conclusions, it is well worth taking a close look at Calabresi’s argument in support of those conclusions.”

Don’t fear regime change in Iran: “President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, and to relentlessly pressure the Islamic Republic, has elicited a predictable response,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh in the Wall Street Journal. “Critics cite history, particularly a counterproductive 1953 coup, as a reason to oppose the strategy. But looking more closely at the past shows that a regime-collapse containment policy is the best way to effect change.”
 

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Attorney: Terror suspect receives insufficient meds: Terror suspect Adel Daoud, accused of plotting to blow up a Chicago bar and who espouses beliefs in “lizard people” and government aliens, isn’t receiving sufficient psychotropic medicine while in custody, according to a new court filing by his attorney. ABC7 Chicago

Trump lawyers plot joint defenses with others in Mueller probe: The president’s personal lawyers have teamed up with attorneys for other individuals embroiled in special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, multiple sources tell The Daily Beast. For a while, the president’s lawyers even had regular conference calls with other attorneys to discuss the Mueller investigation. Daily Beast

‘Quantico’ star apologizes for terror plot line: Priyanka Chopra, one of India’s most famous actresses, who found crossover appeal playing an F.B.I. recruit on the ABC drama “Quantico,” has apologized for a plotline involving terrorism by Indian nationalists ahead of a summit meeting about Kashmir. New York Times

Sessions: Domestic and gang violence are not grounds for asylum: Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday made it all but impossible for asylum seekers to gain entry into the United States by citing fears of domestic abuse or gang violence, in a ruling that could have a broad effect on the flow of migrants from Central America. New York Times

Senators move to sink Trump’s ZTE deal: In a rare rebuke of President Trump, Republican Senate leaders set up a vote for this week that would undo the White House deal to revive Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. Wall Street Journal


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U.N. AND RED CROSS PULL OUT OF YEMENI CITY
The United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross withdrew their staff members from the besieged Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, fearing that an attack by forces led by the United Arab Emirates was imminent, officials said Monday.

Frantic diplomacy to stave off an attack on the city of 600,000 people and avert a potential humanitarian disaster moved to the United Nations on Monday, where the Security Council held a closed-door briefing on the situation.

“We are, at the present moment, in intense consultation,” the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said Monday. “There is a lull in the fighting to allow for them, and I hope that it will be possible to avoid a battle for Hudaydah.” New York Times, CNN

On Monday, a Saudi-led airstrike blasted off the roof and pulverized walls of a cholera treatment center in Yemen, but no one was hurt, according to an international aid group, even as civil war has led to widespread outbreaks of the disease. NPR
Related:
Washington Post: Five Reasons the Crisis in Yemen Matters

Four arrested in Iraq ballot-box storage blaze: An Iraqi court has ordered the arrest of four people accused of setting fire to a storage site housing ballot boxes from a May parliamentary election, state media said. Three of the suspects are policemen and the fourth is an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission. Al Jazeera

Afghanistan bombings: Suicide bombers struck a government building in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Monday, killing at least 17 people, Afghan officials said. Another government office, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, was also a bombing target on Monday, but no one was killed. A bomb detonated prematurely in a third location, killing one person. New York Times


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POLICE: AUSTRALIAN TERROR PLOT UNCOVERED BY ‘AMATEUR JIHADI HUNTERS’ POSED NO REAL THREAT
A foreign terror plot to blow up Melbourne landmarks such as the Queen Victoria Market has been exposed by a family of “amateur jihadi hunters” in Britain.

The family, dubbed by UK media as "jihadi hunters" for their efforts in tracking down would-be terrorists and foiling their plots, was in contact with a foreign fighter. That fighter was trying to find an Australian recruit willing to plant a "sequence of bombs" at the market. Other targets discussed by the foreign would-be terrorist included St Paul’s Cath­edral, Chadstone shopping center, and the William Street law courts and government buildings.

There were discussions to commit the act on June 14. The correspondence was handed to Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police, who deemed that it posed “no credible threat” because the conversations were had entirely with a civilian in the UK. The Age, The Australian

Terror suspect ‘forced to handle explosives’: An alleged Taliban bomb-maker on trial in the UK says he was held captive in Pakistan by the Taliban and forced to bundle up parts of explosive devices at gunpoint to prove he was not a British spy. Khalid Ali told the court he traveled there as a tourist, but was taken to a complex where he was under armed guard. Prosecutors say Ali's fingerprints were found on bomb parts handed to US forces in Afghanistan in 2012. Ali, 28, from north London, has denied preparing a terrorist act in the UK and possessing explosives abroad. BBC News, Sky News




SOUFAN GROUP

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSC IntelBrief.
Editor-in-Chief, Karen J. Greenberg, Center on National Security, Fordham Law School
 
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