WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday criticized President Donald Trump’s claims North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat amid reports Pyongyang is upgrading its nuclear facilities.
Schumer took a swipe at Republicans who support Trump in spite of his style because he’s effective, telling them to “take a look at the yawning gap between what the president claims and what he actually achieved on North Korea and on so many issues.”
“Despite the pomp and circumstance, the negotiations have thus far been a flop,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech. “After the summit, President Trump declared, without any evidence, that ’North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat’ — his words to the United States. The reality, of course, is far, far different.”
Schumer alluded to reports based on satellite imagery that North Korea has made rapid improvements to the infrastructure at a facility used to produce weapons-grade fissile material (according to 38 North, a prominent North Korea monitoring group) and that it’s expanding a facility to build solid-fuel ballistic missiles (according to The Wall Street Journal).
Trump voiced confidence Monday that North Korea’s leader would “honor” his commitment to denuclearize, despite Pyongyang’s accusation that the U.S. is making “gangster-like” demands in negotiations.
It was Trump’s first public response since North Korea gave an angry send-off to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he visited the authoritarian nation over the weekend amid growing skepticism that the North intends to give up its nukes.
“I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump tweeted Monday. “We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.