Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A protest in Seoul on May 16, 2018, over the joint South Korea–U.S. military drills. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea canceled talks with South Korea this week in response to joint U.S.–South Korea military drills and has also put next month's U.S.–North Korea summit in doubt.

The big picture: North Korea seems to be insisting on two conditions for the U.S. summit it believed to have been previously established: U.S.–South Korea exercises will exclude threatening military power, and the U.S. will enter denuclearization negotiations in good faith.

During an April 27 meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that military exercises could continue, but with the understanding that major strategic assets like fighter jets and bombers would not be deployed. The most recent exercise did indeed involve F-22s, though plans to use B-52s have reportedly been scrapped. South Korea will likely try to assure the North that it will no longer use such assets in the immediate future.

As for the U.S. negotiations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now had two direct meetings with Kim. While the details haven't been publicly disclosed, both parties appear to have reached enough of a consensus to move forward with plans for the June summit in Singapore. However, National Security Advisor John Bolton's recent references to a more aggressive denuclearization approach — "the Libya model" — have sowed North Korea doubts about Pompeo’s promised deal.

North Korea's statement now puts the spotlight on Trump, who must decide between Bolton's approach and the summit. Early signs indicate that Trump will opt for the summit, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has already described Bolton’s views as his own, not the administration's.

What's next: In the coming days, Seoul and Washington will likely scramble to patch things up so all three parties can proceed with negotiations. But North Korea's message is clear: If the U.S. doesn’t change its insistence on unilateral nuclear abandonment, North Korea may yet walk away from the table.

John Park is director of the Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School. Pamela Park is co-founder of the Brookbridge Group.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.