From a seemingly fanciful tweet to a historic step into North Korean territory, President Trump’s largely improvised third meeting on Sunday with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was a masterpiece of drama, the kind of made-for-TV spectacle that Mr. Trump treasures.
But for weeks before the meeting, which started as a Twitter offer by the president for Mr. Kim to drop by at the Demilitarized Zone and “say hello,” a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations.
The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.
It falls far short of Mr. Trump’s initial vow 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, but it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics who say the North Korean dictator has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.
While the approach could stop that arsenal from growing, it would not, at least in the near future, dismantle any existing weapons, variously estimated at 20 to 60. Nor would it limit the North’s missile capability.
The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization. But recognizing that its maximalist demand for the near-term surrender of Mr. Kim’s cherished nuclear program is going nowhere, it is weighing a new approach that would begin with a significant — but limited — first step. [Continue reading…]
I'm pretty skeptical about the @SangerNYT/@michaelcrowley story in the @nytimes about the Trump administration's nuclear "freeze" plan for DPRK because of the sourcing–or rather the almost complete lack thereof. (1/n)https://t.co/jVCbTIj2kU
— (((James Acton))) (@james_acton32) July 1, 2019
Let me just go ahead and spoil this for you. North Korea is not going to accept intrusive or invasive inspections that would be needed to deal with the problem of covert sites. pic.twitter.com/jeLIVXHIJS
— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) July 1, 2019