Nuclear Proliferation/Non-proliferation

'Face-Saving,' Promises, and Propaganda: Jean H. Lee on the Inter-Korean Summit

This week’s summit in North Korea between Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in was packed with milestones and camera-ready moments, as the two leaders made another show of Korean unity in their third meeting this year.

NPIHP Publications

Working Paper Series

The NPIHP Working Paper Series is designed to provide a speedy publications outlet for historians who have gained access to newly-available archives and sources and would like to share their results.

Forget Defining Denuclearization: South Koreans are Pushing ahead with Reconciliation

In the month since the Singapore summit where U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history with a handshake, much of the focus in Washington  remains fixed on the question, and definition, of the leaders’ pledge to carry out “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Trump’s team is calling for the unilateral denuclearization of North Korea, while Kim’s negotiators insist that both sides must destroy their nuclear capabilities, not just North Korea.

The Trump-Kim Summit: Outcomes and Oversight: Abe Denmark Testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Abraham Denmark, Director of the Wilson Center's Asia Program and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific at a June 20 hearing titled "The Trump-Kim Summit: Outcomes and Oversight."

The full testimony (as prepared) is available below.

The Singapore Statement: Broad, Vague, but 'I'll Take It'

Instead of the grand, historic nuclear deal to end all nuclear deals that President Trump had promised, we got a 360-word statement from Singapore that was broad in scope and vague in wording. But I’ll take it. 

Going into this summit, I was concerned about what President Trump might offer in terms of security assurances in order to nail down a historic deal. My fear was that assurances such as agreeing to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea would leave that country vulnerable to an untrustworthy North Korea.

North Korea Summit: Historic Deal or Just a Historic Handshake?

With a handshake, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un made history, becoming the first sitting leaders of the Korean War foes to hold a summit. But was it just a photo op?

In this Ground Truth Briefing, Wilson Center experts considered whether the Singapore summit yielded real progress on denuclearization; the impact of these developments on U.S. diplomacy with other countries; China’s reaction; how the lives of average North Koreans could be affected; and what’s next in what President Trump calls “a new chapter” in U.S.-North Korea relations.

 

President Trump's Approaches to the Singapore Summit

There are basically three ways President Trump may approach his summit with Kim Jong Un:

He can issue an ultimatum: say that North Korea must completely denuclearize, allow international inspectors to verify their denuclearization, and do it in a permanent way, or else the United States would pursue a strategy to change his regime and/or use military force.

A Historic Handshake

There’s no denying it: This was a historic handshake. It’s the first time the leaders of North Korea and the United States — two countries that remain locked in a state of war — have held a summit. 

To see President Trump and Kim Jong Un shaking hands warmly and chatting so easily was both stunning and chilling. It’s a powerful moment that augers a change in the tense relationship between these two countries. But it also legitimizes the path Kim took to get here: Building and testing illicit nuclear weapons that have the potential to wreak unimaginable destruction.

Singapore Center Stage

There was something inevitable about the choice of Singapore as a venue for the U.S.-North Korean Summit. Still, it was not a given. The Chinese wanted the event in China. Both Koreas reportedly wanted to revisit the Kim-Moon Summit venue at the DMZ. President Trump was enamored with the show biz potential of the DMZ but was finally persuaded that he should not be seen as visiting Kim on his turf. Another potential venue, Ulan Bator in Mongolia, was too far from the center ring of international media attention.

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