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Donald Trump. Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

The U.S. intends to continue its joint drills with South Korea at the conclusion of the Olympics and Paralympics, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday. Seoul announced that North Korea said it might be willing to talk with the U.S. about denuclearization, a step the regime has previously said it would never take.

Why it matters: North Korea views those joint drills as highly threatening and as preparation for invasion. This alone could stymie any potential talks between the North and the U.S.

What they’re saying: A halt to North Korean nuclear tests is not enough for the U.S. to come to the table to talk since “mass-producing nuclear warheads and nuclear missiles…could continue even in the absence of them doing test launches,” the senior administration official said.

  • Calling North Korea’s bluff: “If their plan is simply to buy time in order to continue building their arsenal...talks aren’t going to get very far at all,” the official said. “We’ve seen that move before, we’ve seen it several times.”
  • North Korea has come to the negotiation table before to discuss denuclearization and a freeze, both of which have fallen through.
  • Takeaway: The announcement from Seoul may not be the breakthrough it appears to be, and it remains to be seen how amenable to compromise both the North Koreans and the U.S. might be.
  • The U.S. has not directly heard from the North Koreans regarding their alleged interest in talking.

What’s next: The U.S. will be having talks with allies later this week, according to the senior administration official. They said the U.S. would like to hear more about what steps the North would take to denuclearize.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

American men plead guilty to helping former Nissan chair escape Japan

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chair, during a news conference in Jounieh, Lebanon, last September. Photo: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor pleaded guilty in a Tokyo court Monday to helping former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn escape Japan in a box aboard a plane in 2019, per the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Ghosn was awaiting trial in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges following his 2018 arrest when he fled to Lebanon. He denies any wrongdoing.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Former White House counsel Don McGahn leaves Capitol Hill after a closed-door meeting with the House Judiciary Committee on June 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice secretly subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Victim dies after downtown Austin mass shooting

Police barricades near the scene of a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

A 25-year-old man died Sunday of injuries sustained in a mass shooting that wounded 13 other people in downtown Austin, Texas, the previous day, police confirmed.

The latest: Austin police named the victim as Douglas John Kantor, as they continued to search for one of two suspects. One suspect was taken into custody on Saturday following the shooting on 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants.