US President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, just hours after Pyongyang had followed through on its pledge to demolish their nuclear test site.
Referring to the scheduled June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump informed the North Korean leader, "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting."
It is necessary to observe how Trump did not mention their meeting would be postponed, but instead canceled it altogether in such an incontestable manner with the letter.
On Thursday, North Korea confirmed that it had demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, marking a significant step toward Korean Peninsula denuclearization.
Punggye-ri is the only known site in North Korea where all six of their nuclear tests were conducted.
Shackled by its limited territory and natural resources, it would be difficult for North Korea to create a similar nuclear test facility. It is also unlikely they would reopen the Punggye-ri site as reconstruction would be an almost impossible endeavor.
Trump canceled the June summit hours after North Korea had demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The time difference may have inspired Pyongyang to think Trump's public announcement was delivered "on purpose" and could result in North Korea moving to its next anger phase.
Pyongyang had shown its utmost sincerity by demolishing the nuclear test site. It was a turning point where North Korea could replace their confrontational policies with concerted efforts aimed at working with international communities to resolve Korean Peninsula issues.
Besides, North Korea had already committed itself to the idea that there would be no more nuclear or long-range missiles tests.
Although the cessation of their nuclear weapons program will not be considered the same as a comprehensive denuclearization effort as there is a long way to go before that goal is achieved, but North Korea is still welcomed for making the announcement.
Trump's sudden summit cancelation will impact the alleviated situation on the Peninsula. Within the past few weeks, North Korea released three American hostages, and then weakened its nuclear weapons program by destroying the Punggye-ri test site.
In the future, challenges will impede progress when promoting Peninsula denuclearization. The US could have easily received what it wanted through diplomacy.
The cancellation of the Trump-Kim summit happened at a time when progress was already underway, and now difficult tasks will lie ahead for foreign affairs officials hoping to advance to the next stage.
America's national image has been damaged ever since Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The cancellation of the Singapore meeting will only enhance their negative image, regardless of any explanation provided by Washington.
North Korea has been able to achieve a few goals during the recent months. Pyongyang has successfully improved relations with China and South Korea, and the world has learned more about North Korea's leader through the Xi-Kim and Kim-Moon meetings. North Korea has also acknowledged to the world the logic behind their actions, and the dark secret of the West defaming North Korea was revealed. The factors will have an important foreshadowing effect on North Korea's return to the international community.
The renewed confrontation between the US and North Korea could threaten peace and stability on the Peninsula. It would be wise for both sides to exercise a level of restraint and avoid using excessive action against one another.
It is imperative the US and North Korea avoid escalating conflicts. Even if they are unable to achieve their desired results, they should at least work hard to prevent the worst situation from happening.
China will continue to improve and develop friendly relations with North Korea as they stopped testing nuclear weapons and offered assurances on denuclearization. China would like to see South Korea value the hard-earned alleviated Peninsula situation and make contributions on prevention efforts aimed at the US as it reignites extreme military initiatives against North Korea.
Trump's decision Thursday has confused all parties involved with the Korean Peninsula issue. The move also creates a paradox for Washington. Both countries need to remain calm and should remind each other that irresponsible behavior can have unpredictable consequences.