President Trump raised eyebrows on Friday with a tweet declaring that he would be withdrawing "additional large scale Sanctions" on North Korea, which he said had been announced earlier in the day by the Treasury Department.
Between the lines: It's unclear what exactly Trump is talking about, though Treasury did announce sanctions yesterday on 2 shipping companies it said had attempted to evade North Korea sanctions. Per Fox News' John Roberts, the sanctions Trump said he is withdrawing are not in reference to the 2 shipping companies, but instead are referencing "new large-scale sanctions that were about to be announced by Treasury." White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the decision was made because "President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary."
Editor's note: This post has been updated with a Fox News report.
What's happening: President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left Hanoi without reaching a deal on sanctions against North Korea or denuclearization efforts in the country. Kim will make an official announcement soon on whether diplomatic talks will continue, per the Post.
Malaysian prosecutors rejected early Thursday a request to free a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Details: Kim Jong-nam died after having liquid VX nerve agent smeared in his face at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Doan Thi Huong and her co-accused, Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, deny killing him and say they believed they were part of a television prank. Aisyah was freed early on Monday Malaysia time. After it was confirmed Huong would remain in Malaysia, the judge said the defendant was not "physically and mentally" well enough to continue with the trial and adjourned the case until Apr 1, Channel NewsAsia reported.
The man tasked with laying the groundwork for a nuclear deal with North Korea says the U.S. is committed to an all-or-nothing approach in which sanctions relief would only follow complete denuclearization — a demand North Korea has said it will never meet, and one that could put a deal beyond reach.
Between the lines: In the lead-up to the Hanoi summit, U.S. officials seemed to hint at openness to a step-by-step process in which some economic carrots would be available before North Korea gave up its full nuclear stockpiles. The rhetoric has been more hawkish since. Special envoy Steve Biegun denied the position was shifting, but insisted: “We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally.”
North Korea’s Sohae rocket launch site is back to “normal operational status” just 1 week after the Hanoi summit ended in “no deal,” according to an analysis of satellite images by 38 North.
Backstory: North Korea has in recent days been repairing the site, which it partially destroyed following the Singapore summit last year. Joel Wit of 38 North said at a Stimson Center event this week that the regime had poured a lot of money and effort into Sohae, viewed its partial destruction as "above and beyond the call of duty," and felt the U.S. was refusing to make any concessions in return.
A mere 2 days after the Hanoi summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, satellite images indicated that North Korea has been rebuilding the long-range rocket site at Sohae Satellite Launching Station, an operational launch facility it previously pledged to dismantle, NBC News reports.
Details: Beyond Parallel, a project by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the images captured on March 2 are "evident at the vertical engine test stand and the launch pad's rail-mounted rocket transfer structure," per NBC News. Victor Cha, one of the authors of Beyond Parallel’s report, said the "imagery thus far does not show a missile being moved to the launch pad." NBC News reported that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded, saying: "We don't comment on intelligence."
North Korean hackers continued a sustained attack on U.S. and European businesses as President Trump met with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, researchers at the cyber-security company McAfee told The New York Times Sunday.
Why it matters: North Korean hackers have been targeting financial institutions and other businesses, with reports the country is trying to circumvent sanctions. McAfee researchers told the Times they had been observing attacks for 18 months and had seen in excess of 100 victims. They said the relentless campaign did not stop for the two-day summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, which ended abruptly and without an agreement last week.
Forget the happy talk. North Korea is steadily adding to its nuclear stockpile, the L.A. Times' Victoria Kim writes from Seoul:
What's new: "U.S. intelligence last summer estimated North Korea may have anywhere from 20 to 60 nuclear weapons. In 2018, North Korea probably produced enough plutonium and uranium for an additional five to seven nuclear weapons, researchers at Stanford have estimated."
Otto Warmbier's parents have spoken out after President Trump stated that he took North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "at his word" after Kim denied any hand in Warmbier's death, which occurred after the American college student spent 17 months in captivity in North Korea and was returned to the U.S. in 2017 in a vegetative state.
"We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that."
Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass — author of "A World in Disarray" — provides his takeaways on President Trump's failed Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which ended abruptly with no joint statement or communiqué.
Haass' bottom line: "Sometimes you have to walk," President Trump said, and he is right. This was one of those times. No deal was better than a bad deal. What's more, walking might well strengthen Trump's hand with N.K. down the road and with China now, as the trade talks reach a critical juncture.