The American founder of the North Korea-monitoring website 38 North says U.S. President Donald Trump's policy toward Pyeongyang is on the right track but needs to be more precise in dealings with the North.
In a breakfast meeting on Feb. 19 in a forum on foreign affairs and national security at the National Assembly in Seoul, Joel S. Wit gave a talk on his view of the prospects for the second North Korea-U.S. summit slated for next week in Hanoi, Vietnam.
"I would note that President Trump's approach stands in contrast to President Obama's policies on North Korea that were anything but risk-taking, whether it came to diplomacy or pressure. His (Trump's) instincts have been right about North Korea," the former State Department official said.
"I should also add that circumstances have favored him (Trump). The fact that President Moon has been a firm supporter of engaging the North and that Kim Jong Un shifted in late 2017 towards a new policy have also opened the way for President Trump."
Wit added, "Trump is not willing to be bound by the American foreign policy establishment thinking on anything and particularly when it comes to North Korea, and is heavily invested in ending the potential threat of North Korea's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to the United States."
On his expectations for the second Kim-Trump summit, he said, "I would note their agreement to dismantle all of their (the North's) fissile material production facilities, including those beyond the Yongbyon nuclear facility and more. Those are North Korea's words."
"Ending fissile material production is an enormous first step, more than most people thought would happen," he added, emphasizing that denuclearization needs to happen in phases over the long term.
Even after the second summit, Wit said, Trump will seek to negotiate "acceptable" deals with Kim.
Wit in 2013 became director of 38 North, a site that analyzes data on the North's nuclear and missile programs with satellite images.