Diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington have been attempting to negotiate a trade that would see Kim give up his country’s nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles used to deliver them in exchange for relief from punishing US and United Nations sanctions that have crippled the North Korean economy.
Efforts have since stalled, however, with North Korea continually blaming the US for the lack of progress.
But a source familiar with the North Korean leadership’s current mindset told CNN that chances are “very low” that North Korea will actually conduct a provocative test like a satellite launch, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), or detonating a nuclear weapon, because those acts would be considered too provocative for the likes of China and Russia, Pyongyang’s two most important international trading partners.
China is believed to account for almost 90% of North Korea’s imports, and has been an advocate for resolving tensions with the isolated country.
On Tuesday, Trump joked that he was holding out hope for another kind of gift from North Korea entirely: “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump said. “I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”
Additional reporting by Josh Berlinger, Jake Kwon, Yoko Wakatsuki and Yong Xiong.