Kim Jong Un Is Serious About Trump Promises, Says Russia

Russia believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will make good on any promises he made to President Donald Trump, starting with dismantling a nuclear test site, a senior diplomat has said.

The much-publicized summit between Trump and Kim last month was the first time a U.S. president has sat down with a North Korean leader to negotiate with the regime on equal terms, but the immediate results have been unclear. The pledge to work toward "denuclearization" after the summit revealed nothing new about the approach of either side, and Trump has since made spurious claims about progress made.

In the lead-up to the summit, the North Korean regime closed the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site—something that Russia's Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora said was a reason to trust that Kim will take further steps.

"We regard what the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea says, very seriously," Matsegora told Russian state news agency Itar-Tass on Tuesday. "I believe that this is not just a propagandist declaration, but it is a serious statement by a statesman who is responsible for his own words."

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walks with Russia’s Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora (from left) at Pyongyang International Airport, in North Korea, on May 31. Russia believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will make good on any promises he made to President Donald Trump. Kim Won-Jin/AFP/Getty Images

So far, the U.S. expects North Korea to carry out a handful of actions, including the destruction of another, albeit unnamed, testing facility and the return of the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War.

Independent satellite photographs taken between June and July this year have shown some signs of dismantling at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Station. But this is the first time since the summit that Pyongyang has shown a possible willingness to put the pledge into action.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the reports were "consistent" with Kim's commitments but added that the U.S. wants its own inspectors on the ground to supervise the facility's shutdown and remained tight lipped on further assessments of the reports.

Matsegora expressed his belief that Kim will "scrupulously fulfill" their agreed commitments, but he said that U.S. suspicions of North Korea's willingness to disarm irreversibly could be costly for Washington.

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"Of course, the Americans are striving to check and make sure of the fact that the site will be destroyed to such an extent that it can never be restored," the Russian diplomat said. "We must keep in mind the following: The Koreans know their site very well, they know its technical capabilities and it is on the basis of this knowledge that they prepared the project of decommissioning. In order for the Americans to study the site…they will have to spend not insignificant resources."

This process could take years, not months, according to Matsegora, who suggested the North Koreans could then ask that the U.S. pay for carrying out the plan. The U.S. has made no such explicit commitment.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.