Conclusion of the Historic Summit

(Image: Trump and Kim as they sign the joint statement at the end of yesterday’s summit. Source: The English Post)

By now, many know that the summit between Kim and Trump ended the signing of a joint statement, which, on a cursory glance is similar to other statements signed by North Korea. (A whole analysis of the statement and the summit will be coming this week.)

The signing of the statement is historic in itself; never has a sitting president signed the same document as a North Korean leader. No matter how successful the summit, it will represent a tectonic shift in relations between the United States and North Korea.

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Sign Time

Trump and Kim have emerged from their working lunch and now we are off to a signing. (I am watching the summit on CNN.)

Trump, passing reporters, said the meeting has been going well, possibly better than anyone could’ve expected. While Trump’s words may be over hyped, they do hint at the possibility of something similar to a joint communique or declaration to come. The two did go to separate areas after Trump mentioned the signing.

So far Kim and Trump appear to be having cordial time together. They walk together, shake hands, and Trump even showed off his presidential Cadillac. The two appear to have built a good rapport with each other.

We are awaiting the end of the summit and this signing. As for myself, I’m off for tonight so I can get some sleep. I’ll write updates as quickly as I can and provide my full analysis of the summit in the coming days.

What to Watch For as we Head to Lunch

(Image: Trump and Kim shake hands before their bilateral meeting in Singapore. Source: Fox News Twitter)

Kim Jung-un and President Trump have left their one on one and headed to a luncheon where diplomatic and expert staff will join them. The two leaders are continuing their historic summit which has the world watching.

Some things to watch for from the summit as we near the end:

  • Substance and plans: Will there be an unveiling of a plan toward denuclearization?
  • Statements: What will Kim Jung-un say? What about Trump’s words? How will the media–both American and North Korean–use public statements to shape the narrative?
  • Human rights: Was the topic of human rights abuses even mentioned in this meeting? What was said and who said it?
  • The relationship: How do Kim and Trump act together? How are they shaping the image through body language and gestures?
  • Peace Treaty: Was their discussion on a formal treaty to end the Korean War? Were any stipulations in place for the treaty? What frame was the treaty presented? And, finally, was a treaty signed?

These are just a few points to watch in this summit. Hopefully, we’ll have answers to them all in the coming hours.

Houston We have Handshake

Kim Jung-un has officially gained more prominence in the world. Kim Jung-un and Donald Trump have shaken hands in Singapore before a background of American and North Korean flags and are now off to a 1-on-1 bilateral meeting with only translators present.

The summit is on and we await the news.

Publishing During the Summit

Today there will be a lot of news from the summit, and it feels like the right time to step back into analyzing the peninsula. Throughout the day, I will be updating the blog with analysis and updates of this historic meeting.

I will work to reestablish the old publishing schedule in the coming days, but for now, lets sit back and watch the summit.

Creating a Path Toward Denuclearization

It has been a long, unplanned hiatus for this blog, not due the lack of news coming from the peninsula for sure. As we approach meeting time, the world watches both President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jung-un as they wake up in Singapore, counting down the hours till they meet face to face. As I cannot write something that has not been written before, below is a brief breakdown of a possible path Trump can pursue to set North Korea on a path toward denuclearization.

(Image: Trump and Kim Jung-un. Source: CNN)

A diplomatic uncertainty, full of twists and turns only a Trump White House could produce, has increased the already high stakes of next weeks U.S.-North Korea summit. Topics will mainly focus on the weapons programs in North Korea, with a strong push for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.” Another key focus will be a formal ending to the Korean War with the possible signing of a peace treaty. Trump, in order to pursue the denuclearization of North Korea, can pursue three goals which will set North Korea on the path toward denuclearization and use the possibility of a formal peace treaty to bring Kim Jung-un into compliance.

First, Trump can pursue the safety of the North Korean nuclear program by pushing for strong updates to current North Korean nuclear testing and production sites. Such updates would ensure that nuclear waste is properly stored, proper measures for interacting with nuclear material are implemented, and ensure that any accident can be contained quickly. Adding such a strict, internationally mandated safety to the North Korean nuclear program ensures any inspections are thorough and provides structure to give the world a better understanding of the program. It also can ensure that the North Korean people themselves are less likely to become the victim in case of a major breakdown at any nuclear site in the country.

Second, Trump must push for enhanced transparency with regards to international reporting on North Korea’s nuclear program. This includes installing a strong structure for and stipulations on North Korea’s own reporting of its nuclear program. As David Sanger and Willam Broad reported in the New York Times, Pyongyang has hidden vast amounts of data on its nuclear program for decades—American intelligence agencies cannot even agree on how many weapons Kim possess. This means any strong transparency measures will also have to include a strong inspection regime to ensure compliance with implemented measures and the accuracy of North Korean reports. Violations or discrepancies within North Korea’s reports must then be investigated and punished appropriately; a stronger understanding of the capabilities of North Korea’s nuclear program greatly enhances the ability to verify any steps taken toward denuclearization.

Finally, Trump should push for the destruction of known nuclear sites such as Yongbyon in order to build upon the North’s actions at Punggye-ri while also greatly reducing North Korea’s capabilities to expand its arsenal. To prevent shallow gestures, international experts need to be able to attend and verify the destruction of such sites, and Pyongyang should face penalties if any site is not irreversibly destroyed. Though there are many unknown nuclear sites in North Korea, destroying the ones already known cripples Kim’s ability to build more weapons. A panel of interested nations—Russia, America, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and China—should convene to discuss the future of any sites discovered. Rewards should be granted if Pyongyang volunteers site information and follows through on its complete destruction.

A formal peace treaty should not be signed unless Kim Jung-U.N. is willing to commit to all of these steps, ensuring that he is making good on his promise to pursue denuclearization. Providing North Korea with the security assurances that come with a formal treaty without pressing for concrete steps toward denuclearization ensures that Kim is free to cheat on any deal, all while gaining concessions and legitimacy in the domestic and international arenas. Trump also needs to think about the future and ensure that strong measures are ready to be implemented should Pyongyang cheat on the deal. America simply cannot give Kim concessions without gaining concrete steps toward denuclearization.

If Trump can secure all three of these commitments from Kim, he will walk away having accomplished more than previous presidents have on the North Korea issue. However tantalizing, he must avoid giving away security guarantees for grand promises and instead focus on setting North Korea down the road toward denuclearization. With the hype and pressure surrounding the summit, Trump must think in terms of substance while refusing to fall for North Korea’s grand promises of peace and denuclearization that Pyongyang carefully crafts for their benefit.

Corrections: June 11, 2018

Typographical changes to make the post easier to read.

Breaking News: Sweeping Olympic Deal

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(Image: The Korean Unification Flag. Source: Sarago)[1]

South and North Korea have been working on a dialogue for weeks, which mainly has focused on Olympic participation of North Korea. (These talks are subject to my post in progress, outlining a few major stories as I work my way back into publishing on this site.) Today, these talks have reached a broad deal which establishes a sweeping precedent for inter-Korean sports relations moving forward.

In Pyeongchang, the two Koreas will march under one flag (Wall Street Journal), the Unified Korea flag which shows an undivided peninsula in blue on a white background (Yonhap). However, the deal does not stop there. In Women’s Ice Hockey, the two Koreas will field a unified team; North Korea is set to send 230 member cheering squad and a 30 taekwondo demonstration team; and the North promised to send a 150 member delegation to the Paralympics in March (Yonhap).

The deal is a milestone in inter-Korean sports relations, though it may face some backlash. South Korean athletes have, in the past, balked at the idea of a unified team that places parity with North Korea over the hard work of South Korean athletes (New York Times). The deal, in South Korean political circles, is being argued as a start to thawing relations with North Korea. It also may enhance security around and during the Olympics as North Korea now has a stake in the outcome.

Notes

[1] This source is in Japanese and I have simply pulled the image.