Updated Jan 1, 2020

Kim Jong-un announces end to moratorium on nuclear weapon tests

Kim Jong Un giving his New Year's speech on Dec. 30, 2019. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in a New Year's speech that his country would abandon a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, declaring that there "will never be denuclearization on the Korean peninsula" unless the U.S. drops its "hostile" policies, according to state media.

Why it matters: North Korea has not conducted a nuclear or long-range missile test in more than two years, hoping for a breakthrough in negotiations spurred by Kim's friendly personal relationship with President Trump, according to the New York Times. Trump has often touted this moratorium as a diplomatic achievement.

The big picture: In earlier comments at a four-day conference for his ruling party, Kim accused the Trump administration of failing to meet a year’s end deadline for concessions in nuclear talks and warned that North Korea will soon reveal a "new strategic weapon," according to AP.

  • Some experts say that North Korea is sensitive to U.S. elections and could avoid engaging in serious negotiations over the next year, especially with President Trump set to face an impeachment trial.

Trump's reaction: The president told reporters in Palm Beach Tuesday evening he got along with Kim, but the North Korean leader "did sign an agreement talking about decnuclearization," he said, referring to the Singapore summit document signed in 2018.

"I think he’s a man of his word, so we’re going to find out."
— Trump on Kim

Between the lines: Following the Singapore summit, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas, writing for Axios, noted that the released statement on decnuclearization was "entirely aspirational" with little substance and "no definitions of denuclearization."

Go deeper: John Bolton hits Trump for bluffing on North Korea nukes

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Trump's comments and more context on the Singapore summit.

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Exclusive: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.

Driving the news: O'Brien sat down with Axios at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday to talk about a range of national security challenges at the start of a new year.

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Trump's twin war threats

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President Trump suddenly faces two global crises in North Korea and Iran — via Iraq — both with the real possibility of U.S. military action, if not war.

Why it matters: Trump has benefited from relative peace abroad and prosperity at home. But these twin challenges will truly test his diplomatic mix of bluster and buddying up to bad guys on the world stage. 

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Pew: Across 33 countries, 64% of people have no confidence in Trump

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L), President Donald Trump (C) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman at the G20 summit. Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

64% of people worldwide said they do not have confidence in President Trump to do the right thing on the global stage, while only 29% said they trust him, according to a Pew survey of 36,923 respondents conducted in 33 countries.

Why it matters: The world is watching as tensions between the U.S. and Iran flare in the wake of the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani — threatening an all-out war that could further destabilize the Middle East. Amid other global threats, North Korea has also abandoned a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons testing after negotiations with the U.S. broke down.

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