From the moment President Trump accepted an audacious invitation to meet Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, he raised expectations that he would finally do what none of his predecessors had: get North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal.
Yet, as a warning last week from the North made clear — and as most experts on the country have long declared — Mr. Kim may have no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons any time soon, if ever.
Now the question is how Mr. Trump will redefine success, if the summit meeting actually takes place as planned.
If Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim do sit down in a room in Singapore on June 12, it is clear that denuclearization is all but off the table in the short term. But analysts suggested Mr. Trump would have no trouble finding other ways to claim victory.
“The reality is that the summit will be a success because Trump will package, sell, and call it a success to his supporters,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul, the South Korean capital. “It unfortunately won’t matter what the experts think.”
In a sign that plans were still moving forward, the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, arrived in Washington for a meeting with Mr. Trump on Tuesday to discuss details of the coming talks.
Experts — many of whom have sharply criticized Mr. Trump’s improvisational approach to diplomacy and apparent lack of knowledge about the history of prior, failed deals with North Korea — said one realistic outcome could be a simple declaration stating that denuclearization is an eventual goal.
With the memory of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and Mr. Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric still fresh in most minds, analysts said even a vague deal could be more desirable than a return to the rising tensions of last year.
Coupled with a North Korean agreement to extend its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, and a promise not to export nuclear arms, analysts said such a deal would be an important starting point for future negotiations. [Continue reading…]