Everything You Need to Know About the TrumpKim Summit
Image Credits: The Carter Center, BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images.
U.S President Donald Trump agreed Thursday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the country’s missile and nuclear weapons program.
The message was delivered to the White House by South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who met with Kim in North Korea on Monday. Kim has reportedly pledged to bring a halt to missile and nuclear weapons testing and accept the upcoming military exercise Foal Eagle, held annually by the U.S. and South Korea.
“He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Eui-yong said of the North Korean leader. “President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
Trump took to Twitter Thursday evening, noting that a time and date for the meeting was currently in the works.
“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze,” Trump wrote. “Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
While there is no reason to doubt South Korea’s account, North Korea has not yet publicly confirmed the comments surrounding denuclearization. In a statement to The Washington Post, Pak Song Il, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, stated that by the “great courageous decision of our Supreme Leader, we can take the new aspect to secure the peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region.”
“The United States should know and understand our position and should further contribute to the peace and security-building in the Korean Peninsula with [a] sincere position and serious attitude,” Pak added.
Pyongyang has attempted for over 20 years to secure a face-to-face meeting with a sitting U.S. president, stretching back to North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. All previous presidents had refused the offer for numerous reasons, one being the fear that such a meeting would legitimize the rogue regime’s dictator as a credible world leader. While both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at one point traveled to North Korea, both visits were made after leaving the Oval Office.
In fact, as noted by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the famous North Korean propaganda film “The Country I Saw” envisions a day when an American president, “compelled by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” opts to treat Kim as an equal on the international stage.
This is not to say that Trump should reject the meeting. Instead, the White House should move forward with cautious optimism.
Although the precise calculus behind Kim’s decision for such a summit remains unknown, several factors are likely to have contributed to the decision, including the weight of sanctions on the regime, brought by the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, and potential fears of a “bloody nose strike.”
And while Trump has injected a much-needed sense of urgency into the North Korea problem, Kim is also entering into talks from a position of strength previously unseen from Pyongyang as well. Unlike earlier attempts at a lasting détente, North Korea now has a nuclear and missile capability that has altered the balance of power and afforded the regime a greater bargaining ability.
How the summit will play out depends heavily on what both sides are aiming to achieve and willing to exchange.
Kim, despite allusions to an eventual denuclearization, will almost certainly never give up the very weapons North Korea has spent over four decades developing to ensure a deterrence to U.S. regime change.
North Korea has repeatedly made similar vows in the past, all which have ended in failure.
Both Koreas in 1992 signed the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, vowing not to “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”
In 1994 as part of the Agreed Framework, Pyongyang agreed to freeze its plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid. The U.S. eventually withdrew from the agreement in 2002 after it was learned North Korea had continued the nuclear program in secret.Read More...