Overnight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs

Overnight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs
© Getty Images

THE TOPLINE: Will the Pyongyang summit be seen as a breakthrough in North Korea negotiations or just another broken promise and stalling tactic from the North?

That's the question on observers' minds after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in's third summit.

At the second day of the summit, the pair announced that North Korea agreed to dismantle a missile test site and launch pad in the presence of "international experts."

Kim also agreed to dismantle North Korea's main nuclear complex if the United States agrees to "corresponding steps."

ADVERTISEMENT

"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat," Kim said.

There's the rub: Kim did not specify what reciprocal measures he is looking for from the United States in order to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

North Korea has been demanding the United States sign a joint peace declaration to officially end the Korean War before it will proceed with denuclearization. But the United States wants North Korea to first provide a complete inventory of its nuclear weapons and facilities.

In that respect, the agreement between Kim and Moon appears to fall short of what Washington was looking for.

Also, while Kim says now he'll allow international experts to monitor the dismantlement of the sites, he also said that originally about destroying the tunnels at Punggye-ri nuclear test site. In that case, he ended up only allowing foreign journalists to observe the destruction.

Still, Trump positive: President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE hailed the results of the summit as "very exciting."

"Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts," Trump tweeted. "In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting!"

Later Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms Turkey: Trump working on cleric’s extradition Trump risks clash with Congress over Chinese executive MORE said the "important commitments" made at the summit means the United States is ready to "immediately" resume its dialogue with North Korea.

"On the basis of these important commitments, the United States is prepared to engage immediately in negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations," Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday.

"This will mark the beginning of negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations through the process of rapid denuclearization of North Korea, to be completed by January 2021, as committed by Chairman Kim, and to construct a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula."

Pompeo said he invited his counterpart to meet next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He also said he extended an invitation for North Korean representatives to meet with the U.S. special envoy for North Korea in Vienna "at the earliest opportunity."

Other reaction: Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest who is in Seoul this, emailed reporters that "we can say the third Inter-Korean summit was a success."

"But perhaps more importantly, the best result that can come from this summit isn't who gave what concession but that talks such as these become the new normal--something that was hinted at during President Moon and Chairman Kim's comments," he said. "Frequent communication is the only path to ensure that when Washington or Seoul has differences of opinion with Pyongyang we never go back to the days of 'fire and fury.'"

Bruce Klingner, former CIA division chief for the Koreas now at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said to be skeptical of the results of the summit.

"There will be conscious or inadvertent overplays of what was actually included. President Trump has already declared that North Korea will allow nuclear inspections when that is clearly not the case," he said in a release from Heritage.

"The Trump administration will now be faced with a dilemma of enforcing principles and risking strained relations with Seoul or getting on the euphoric peace train," he added.

Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceHouse passes resolution calling for release of Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States should continue its maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.

"Surprise, surprise: North Korea wants concessions from the U.S. for steps far short of denuclearization. Glad the admin has made no commitments. Maximum pressure campaign should proceed," Royce tweeted.

Jean Lee, director of the Wilson Center's Korea Center, said Kim's commitments may provide a "face-saving" way for the United States to proceed with talks with the North.

"It may be just enough commitment for President Moon to take to President Trump in their summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this month, and to lobby for the next step: a Kim-Trump summit where the North Korean and U.S. leaders would agree to an end-of-war peace declaration," she wrote on the think tank's website.

 

CONGRESS TO GET SPACE FORCE PLAN IN FEBRUARY: The No. 2 Pentagon civilian put Wednesday a more concrete timeline on when Congress will get the detailed plan for Space Force.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the legislative proposal for President Trump's desired Space Force will be submitted to Congress in February.

Shanahan, who has been tasked with leading plans to establish the new military branch, said top officials are now putting together the plan "we can carry forward in a legislative proposal."

Shanahan was speaking to a crowd at an Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, Md.

The complications: He admitted, however that "we're really wrestling with the how, of creating a Space Force."

"Unfortunately sometimes more energy is spent on what are the uniforms going to look like, or the rank structure, than what are the capabilities that we're going to deliver and how do we go about that," he said.

"I think for other folks it's how do we make sure we preserve the important capability that we rely on every single day. The process that we're going through, it's not that it's awkward, there's a lot of really serious thinking and important trades to conduct."

Also complicating matters is the sheer scope of creating a new service branch, which has not been done since 1947 when the Air Force was created out of the Army Air Corps.

"Over a very short period of time it's been thrust upon us to create and grow a new organization. It's been since 1947 that an exercise like this has been undertaken. So the playbook is out of date," Shanahan said.

And the downplay: Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said the Space Force headquarters "will be lean, with every possible resource devoted to enhancing our capabilities."

He concluded that while there "will be some hand wringing and arm wrestling ... we're a team and we'll solve it as a team."

"Together we're working to create a Space Force, which as you might imagine is a complicated process. But while there's plenty of debate about the how, we are united by the why, protecting our economy and deterring our adversaries," he said.

 

SILENT BOMBS?: Another new book, another head-scratching detail about Trump.

This time, the book is "The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy." The Washington Post, where author Greg Miller is a national security correspondent, published an excerpt Wednesday.

And the detail is that Trump apparently asked CIA officials if they could fully silence the bombs used in drone strikes.

Trump, shown highlights of successful Predator drone strikes during his first visit to CIA headquarters a day after he was inaugurated, noticed in one video that a group of militants had spread out right before an attack.

"Can they hear the bombs coming? We should make the bombs silent so they can't get away," he told officials, according to the book excerpt.

On civilians, meh: The forthcoming book also says that Trump appeared unenthused when the CIA's head of drone operations described how the agency had developed special bombs to limit civilian casualties.

When he was shown a strike during which the CIA did not fire until the target was away from a compound with other people inside, Trump asked, "Why did you wait?"

In addition, Trump appeared puzzled by the CIA's restraint in use of its drones, which it uses for surveillance flights over Syria. At the time, only the military conducted lethal strikes, as part of an Obama-era policy.

Trump told CIA officials he wanted the restrictions gone.

"If you can do it in 10 days, get it done," he said.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: State Department warns Islamic State, al Qaeda have adapted after 'major strides' by US

-- The Hill: New Defense cyber strategy gives military power on preventative cyberattacks

-- The Hill: Envoy: US seeking missile, nuclear treaty with Iran

-- The Hill: Opinion: Dealing with the Russia factor in North Korea negotiations

-- Washington Post: The Army is trying to find criminal conduct among immigrant recruits, email shows

-- Associated Press: Putin says Russia perfected weapons based on Syria campaign

-- Military Times: Report ranking military installations for sex assault risk delayed