Politics

Trump sounds optimistic on North Korea talks, but still stresses: 'We'll see what happens'

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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump said "we'll see what happens" and "who knows" with regard to his upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un to address North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
  • Trump added that the leader of the North has been "very open and very straightforward so far" and referenced Kim's promise to forgo ballistic missile and nuclear weapon testing.
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Trump: If North Korea summit isn't a success, I will leave

President Donald Trump attempted to strike a balance between optimism and skepticism about his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump told reporters Monday, "we'll see what happens" when it comes to the talks about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Yet, he added that the United States "has never been closer to potentially having something happen with respect to the Korean Peninsula that can get rid of the nuclear weapons."

"So, we'll see what happens. I often say, who knows? Who knows? Maybe a lot of things change," the president said.

Trump at times seemed to suggest he thought about his meeting with Kim as not merely a diplomatic event, but as a major media event as well.

By holding the talks on the Korean Peninsula, "if things work out, there is a great celebration to be had on the site, [and] not in a third-party country," he said.

"I will say this, the good news is that everybody wants us," he said, referring to other counties which have volunteered to hold the talks. "It has the chance to be a big event."

Trump's comments came moments after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that "Iran lied big time" about never having a nuclear weapons program. Trump, who is expected to make a decision on the nuclear deal by mid-May, told reporters that pulling out of the agreement "sends the right message" to Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017.
KCNA | Reuters

Meanwhile, Trump added that the leader of the North has been "very open and very straightforward so far" and referenced Kim's promise to forgo ballistic missile and nuclear weapon testing.

"He's talking about no research, no launching of ballistic missiles, no nuclear testing and he has lived up to that for a long period of time. A longer period of time than anybody has seen," Trump said.

As it stands, North Korea remains the only nation to test nuclear weapons in this century.

Since 2011, Kim has fired more than 90 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.

The North's arsenal includes short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile is the most powerful rocket the North has tested to date.

The missile, also known as KN-22 by the U.S., is believed to have a range capable of hitting the entire continental United States, according to estimates from the Missile Defense Project.

In short, Kim spent much of last year perfecting his arsenal by launching 24 missiles and carrying out North Korea's largest nuclear test.

WATCH: Nigerian president says Trump deserves N. Korea credit

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Nigerian President Buhari: Trump deserves credit on potential denuclearization in Korea