Here’s How Trump Can Win Big at the North Korea Summit

    Doug Bandow

    Security, Asia

    Signing a document would set the stage for further negotiations and be useful in holding North Korea to account if it again grows recalcitrant.

    The summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is almost certainly is going to happen. After all, neither party can afford to cancel this late. So the question is how best to make it a success?

    We know the result will not be denuclearization as defined by the U.S. All that talk about speedy complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) was apparently just talk. The idea of loading North Korea’s weapons, centrifuges, and perhaps even physicists onto American planes and spiriting them away was fanciful. Furthermore, so were any plans to collect any other parts of North Korea’s various weapons of mass destruction programs. We will not implement the Libya model, despite what National Security Adviser John Bolton said.

    So what is the objective? After Trump announced that the summit was on he said, “It’s a process. We’re not go in and sign something on June 12 and we never were. We are going to start a process. And I told them today: take your time. We can go fast, we can go slowly.”

    Such a statement makes one wonder who is this person, and where is the president who threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on the Korean peninsula?

    A process can be helpful, and the right process can be critical. Still, a process is only a means to bring about a substantive result. So what should the latter be?

    First, contra the president, the two leaders should sign something, even if just a short, but specific, promise by the U.S. to end what might be considered “hostile policy” toward North Korea in return for Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearize by eliminating all of their nuclear weapons and their entire atomic infrastructure. Of course, words alone have little value. But the document would set the stage for further negotiations and be useful in holding North Korea to account if it again grows recalcitrant.

    Second, Washington should seek to make permanent the North’s freeze on nuclear and missile tests. That commitment would be easy to police and would limit the reach of missiles and inhibit improvement of nuclear weapons. The U.S. could pay for such a concession with something that could be easily revoked if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea changed its mind and again began testing. For instance, Washington and Seoul could suspend joint military exercises.

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