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US Congress Weighs Next Steps in Gun Law Debate

What comes next in the U.S. Congress to address gun violence, after thousands of students walked out of their classrooms to demand action in the wake of the Florida school massacre? As VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, it appears there is still no clear path forward as lawmakers consider gun laws and how to deal with school safety.

Experts: US, North Korea Heading for Collision Over Meaning of ‘Denuclearization’

A difference in how the United States and North Korea define denuclearization could potentially derail the summit scheduled for May between President Donald Trump and Kim Jon Un, according to experts.

Last week, Trump accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit invitation, which was conveyed by South Korean envoys who had met with Kim in Pyongyang.

If the U.S. military threat to North Korea is removed and the safety of the Kim regime is guaranteed, the “North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said South Korean National Security Chief Chung Eui-yong after meeting with Kim. Days later, Chung delivered Kim’s proposal to Trump.

WATCH: US Moving Forward with Proposed US- North Korea Talks

What is denuclearization

But the fate of the summit scheduled could hinge on the definition of denuclearize, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “to remove nuclear arms from or prohibit the use of nuclear arms in” — in this case, North Korea.

In the past, Pyongyang has interpreted denuclearization as the removal of what it perceives as threats, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella over the Korean Peninsula, the U.S.-South Korea security alliance, and the presence of the U.S. troops in the South, according to experts, while Washington interprets denuclearization as the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“A rift in views of denuclearization could make Trump-Kim summit difficult and possibly even be canceled,” said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Evans Revere, a former State Department official who was involved in previous talks with North Korea, warned that Trump should not expect denuclearization to be the topic that Kim wants to discuss at the summit.

“A very complicated situation has just gotten a lot more complicated primarily because the invitation seems to have been accepted on the premise or with the assumption that the North Korean leader is interested in denuclearization, even though I see no evidence whatsoever that he’s actually interested in discussing denuclearization,” Revere said.

North Korea’s focus

North Korea will most likely attempt to shift the focus from dismantling its nuclear program to demanding the U.S. remove what North Korea perceives as threats posed against its regime as a condition for giving up its nuclear program, according to experts.

Withdrawing its military from the South, “will be unacceptable to the U.S.,” Manning said.

Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at the Center for Naval Analyses, thinks divergent demands resulting from the differing views of denuclearization will prevent the U.S. from finding “a common ground to begin negotiations.”

Former State Department official Revere believes diplomatic progress will be severely impeded if Trump and Kim have different outcomes in mind.

“There is a rule in diplomacy that you never agree to a summit unless you understand the outcome that you are seeking in the summit, and your adversary also understands and agrees with the outcome that both parties are seeking. That doesn’t seem to be the case here,” Revere said.

​North Korea’s commitment

North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize is highly deceptive, according to Revere. 

“What Ambassador Chung, whom I have a lot of respect for, … heard from the North Koreans is not a commitment to denuclearization,” Revere said. “It’s a commitment to North Korea’s vision of the end of the U.S.-South Korean alliance and the end of the U.S. military presence. And that’s not an acceptable condition.”

North Korea has not made an official public pledge to give up its nuclear weapons program. The message that Pyongyang is willing to denuclearize was conveyed by the South Korean envoys who met with Kim. Without a direct statement from Kim, there is room to misinterpret North Korea’s definition of, and willingness to denuclearize, according to experts.

Manning warned that possible clashes over denuclearization at the summit could potentially lead to a diplomatic breakdown and raise the possibility of U.S. military action.

“There is a danger that if there is a Trump-Kim summit and President Trump feels played or betrayed, military action might be more likely,” Manning said.

“If diplomacy fails, the voices in the U.S. calling for military strikes will gain momentum,” Gause said. “The voices for diplomacy will be drowned out.”

Trilateral diplomacy

The trilateral diplomatic move began when South Korean envoys traveled to Pyongyang early in March at Kim’s invitation. Their trip was followed by the announcement of the inter-Korean summit to be held in April. The delegation then visited Washington to deliver Kim’s invitation for the U.S-North Korean summit that Trump agreed to have by May.

Youngnam Kim from VOA Korean Service contributed to this story.

 

Experts: US, North Korea Heading for Collision Over Meaning of ‘Denuclearization’

A difference in how the United States and North Korea define denuclearization could potentially derail the summit scheduled for May between President Donald Trump and Kim Jon Un, according to experts.

Last week, Trump accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit invitation, which was conveyed by South Korean envoys who had met with Kim in Pyongyang.

If the U.S. military threat to North Korea is removed and the safety of the Kim regime is guaranteed, the “North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said South Korean National Security Chief Chung Eui-yong after meeting with Kim. Days later, Chung delivered Kim’s proposal to Trump.

WATCH: US Moving Forward with Proposed US- North Korea Talks

What is denuclearization

But the fate of the summit scheduled could hinge on the definition of denuclearize, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “to remove nuclear arms from or prohibit the use of nuclear arms in” — in this case, North Korea.

In the past, Pyongyang has interpreted denuclearization as the removal of what it perceives as threats, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella over the Korean Peninsula, the U.S.-South Korea security alliance, and the presence of the U.S. troops in the South, according to experts, while Washington interprets denuclearization as the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“A rift in views of denuclearization could make Trump-Kim summit difficult and possibly even be canceled,” said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Evans Revere, a former State Department official who was involved in previous talks with North Korea, warned that Trump should not expect denuclearization to be the topic that Kim wants to discuss at the summit.

“A very complicated situation has just gotten a lot more complicated primarily because the invitation seems to have been accepted on the premise or with the assumption that the North Korean leader is interested in denuclearization, even though I see no evidence whatsoever that he’s actually interested in discussing denuclearization,” Revere said.

North Korea’s focus

North Korea will most likely attempt to shift the focus from dismantling its nuclear program to demanding the U.S. remove what North Korea perceives as threats posed against its regime as a condition for giving up its nuclear program, according to experts.

Withdrawing its military from the South, “will be unacceptable to the U.S.,” Manning said.

Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at the Center for Naval Analyses, thinks divergent demands resulting from the differing views of denuclearization will prevent the U.S. from finding “a common ground to begin negotiations.”

Former State Department official Revere believes diplomatic progress will be severely impeded if Trump and Kim have different outcomes in mind.

“There is a rule in diplomacy that you never agree to a summit unless you understand the outcome that you are seeking in the summit, and your adversary also understands and agrees with the outcome that both parties are seeking. That doesn’t seem to be the case here,” Revere said.

​North Korea’s commitment

North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize is highly deceptive, according to Revere. 

“What Ambassador Chung, whom I have a lot of respect for, … heard from the North Koreans is not a commitment to denuclearization,” Revere said. “It’s a commitment to North Korea’s vision of the end of the U.S.-South Korean alliance and the end of the U.S. military presence. And that’s not an acceptable condition.”

North Korea has not made an official public pledge to give up its nuclear weapons program. The message that Pyongyang is willing to denuclearize was conveyed by the South Korean envoys who met with Kim. Without a direct statement from Kim, there is room to misinterpret North Korea’s definition of, and willingness to denuclearize, according to experts.

Manning warned that possible clashes over denuclearization at the summit could potentially lead to a diplomatic breakdown and raise the possibility of U.S. military action.

“There is a danger that if there is a Trump-Kim summit and President Trump feels played or betrayed, military action might be more likely,” Manning said.

“If diplomacy fails, the voices in the U.S. calling for military strikes will gain momentum,” Gause said. “The voices for diplomacy will be drowned out.”

Trilateral diplomacy

The trilateral diplomatic move began when South Korean envoys traveled to Pyongyang early in March at Kim’s invitation. Their trip was followed by the announcement of the inter-Korean summit to be held in April. The delegation then visited Washington to deliver Kim’s invitation for the U.S-North Korean summit that Trump agreed to have by May.

Youngnam Kim from VOA Korean Service contributed to this story.

 

US Moving Forward with Proposed US- North Korea Talks

A major shakeup in U.S. President Donald Trump’s Cabinet has not derailed plans for an unprecedented meeting between the president and the leader of North Korea, according to the State Department. But foreign policy experts warn caution may be necessary. VOA’s Korean service spoke with a former CIA analyst on Korean issues about the high stakes summit. VOA’s Jesusemen Oni has more.

US Moving Forward with Proposed US- North Korea Talks

A major shakeup in U.S. President Donald Trump’s Cabinet has not derailed plans for an unprecedented meeting between the president and the leader of North Korea, according to the State Department. But foreign policy experts warn caution may be necessary. VOA’s Korean service spoke with a former CIA analyst on Korean issues about the high stakes summit. VOA’s Jesusemen Oni has more.

Former Siemens Executive Pleads Guilty in Argentine Bribery Case

A former midlevel employee of German industrial giant Siemens pleaded guilty Thursday of conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars to Argentine officials to win a $1 billion contract to create national ID cards.

Eberhard Reichart, 78, who worked for Siemens from 1964 to 2001, appeared in federal court in New York to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit wire fraud.

Reichart was arraigned last December in a three-count indictment filed in December 2011 charging him and seven other Siemens executives and agents with participating in the decadelong scheme, the Justice Department said Thursday. 

The men were accused of conspiring to pay more than $100 million in bribes to high-level Argentine officials to win the contract in 1998. 

As part of his guilty plea, Reichart admitted in court that he engaged in the bribery conspiracy and that he and his co-conspirators used shell companies to conceal the illicit payments to Argentine officials.

The Argentine government terminated the contract in 2001, but the Siemens executives “sought to recover the profits they would have reaped” through an illicitly obtained contract, said Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in 2011. 

“Far too often, companies pay bribes as part of their business plan, upsetting what should be a level playing field and harming companies that play by the rules,” acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said Thursday.

In 2008, Siemens pleaded guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the Argentine bribery scheme, agreeing to pay the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission $800 million in criminal and civil penalties.

The company paid the German government another $800 million to settle similar charges brought by the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars U.S. companies and foreign firms with a presence in the U.S. from paying bribes to foreign officials.

Last year, 11 companies paid just over $1.92 billion to resolve charges brought under the anti-bribery law, according to data compiled by the FCPA Blog.

Former Siemens Executive Pleads Guilty in Argentine Bribery Case

A former midlevel employee of German industrial giant Siemens pleaded guilty Thursday of conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars to Argentine officials to win a $1 billion contract to create national ID cards.

Eberhard Reichart, 78, who worked for Siemens from 1964 to 2001, appeared in federal court in New York to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit wire fraud.

Reichart was arraigned last December in a three-count indictment filed in December 2011 charging him and seven other Siemens executives and agents with participating in the decadelong scheme, the Justice Department said Thursday. 

The men were accused of conspiring to pay more than $100 million in bribes to high-level Argentine officials to win the contract in 1998. 

As part of his guilty plea, Reichart admitted in court that he engaged in the bribery conspiracy and that he and his co-conspirators used shell companies to conceal the illicit payments to Argentine officials.

The Argentine government terminated the contract in 2001, but the Siemens executives “sought to recover the profits they would have reaped” through an illicitly obtained contract, said Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in 2011. 

“Far too often, companies pay bribes as part of their business plan, upsetting what should be a level playing field and harming companies that play by the rules,” acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said Thursday.

In 2008, Siemens pleaded guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the Argentine bribery scheme, agreeing to pay the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission $800 million in criminal and civil penalties.

The company paid the German government another $800 million to settle similar charges brought by the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars U.S. companies and foreign firms with a presence in the U.S. from paying bribes to foreign officials.

Last year, 11 companies paid just over $1.92 billion to resolve charges brought under the anti-bribery law, according to data compiled by the FCPA Blog.

Trump to Weigh New Tariffs Targeting China 

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday that President Donald Trump would soon consider new punitive measures against China for its alleged “theft” of intellectual property.

U.S. officials, according to news accounts, are considering imposing as much as $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecommunications and consumer exports to the U.S. in an effort to trim its chronic annual trade deficit with Beijing by $100 billion. Last year, the U.S. says it imported Chinese goods worth $375 billion more than it exported to China.

“In the coming weeks, President Trump is going to have on his desk some recommendations,” Navarro told CNBC. “This will be one of the many steps the president is going to courageously take in order to address unfair trade practices.

“I don’t think there’s a single person … on Wall Street that will oppose cracking down on China’s theft of our intellectual property or their forced transfer,” Navarro said.

The new tariffs and other measures would be in addition to the 25 percent tariff on steel imports to the U.S. and 10 percent levy on aluminum that Trump announced last week, some of which affect China.

​At a political fundraiser Wednesday, Trump attacked several trading partners for the billions of dollars in trade surpluses they have built up against the U.S. He contended that China had become an economic power — the world’s second biggest economy — because of its trade surplus with the United States.

China warned it would likely retaliate against any new tariffs the U.S. imposes.

Foreign minister spokesman Lu Kang said, “History has proven that a trade war is in no one’s interest.”

He said that “if an undesirable situation arises, China has the intention of safeguarding its legitimate rights.”

Trump’s new tariffs on metal imports have led in recent days to volatility on U.S. stock exchanges, with wide day-to-day swings of hundreds of points in stock indexes. 

But Navarro said the U.S. can impose the tariffs in a way that can be good for the American people and good for the global trading system. We can do this in a way that is peaceful and will improve and strengthen the trading system. … Everybody on Wall Street needs to understand: Just relax.”

Trump to Weigh New Tariffs Targeting China 

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday that President Donald Trump would soon consider new punitive measures against China for its alleged “theft” of intellectual property.

U.S. officials, according to news accounts, are considering imposing as much as $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecommunications and consumer exports to the U.S. in an effort to trim its chronic annual trade deficit with Beijing by $100 billion. Last year, the U.S. says it imported Chinese goods worth $375 billion more than it exported to China.

“In the coming weeks, President Trump is going to have on his desk some recommendations,” Navarro told CNBC. “This will be one of the many steps the president is going to courageously take in order to address unfair trade practices.

“I don’t think there’s a single person … on Wall Street that will oppose cracking down on China’s theft of our intellectual property or their forced transfer,” Navarro said.

The new tariffs and other measures would be in addition to the 25 percent tariff on steel imports to the U.S. and 10 percent levy on aluminum that Trump announced last week, some of which affect China.

​At a political fundraiser Wednesday, Trump attacked several trading partners for the billions of dollars in trade surpluses they have built up against the U.S. He contended that China had become an economic power — the world’s second biggest economy — because of its trade surplus with the United States.

China warned it would likely retaliate against any new tariffs the U.S. imposes.

Foreign minister spokesman Lu Kang said, “History has proven that a trade war is in no one’s interest.”

He said that “if an undesirable situation arises, China has the intention of safeguarding its legitimate rights.”

Trump’s new tariffs on metal imports have led in recent days to volatility on U.S. stock exchanges, with wide day-to-day swings of hundreds of points in stock indexes. 

But Navarro said the U.S. can impose the tariffs in a way that can be good for the American people and good for the global trading system. We can do this in a way that is peaceful and will improve and strengthen the trading system. … Everybody on Wall Street needs to understand: Just relax.”