The circumstances of the meeting between Kim and Pompeo are far less significant than its consequences. Despite the odd timing and public exposure, the Trump administration has used a proven channel to attempt an extraordinary mission.
It is uncertain at best whether a Trump–Kim meeting will actually take place. If one does, the central issue will be the huge discrepancy between what the United States and the North Koreans mean by the phrase “committed to denuclearization.”
The risks for a Trump-Kim summit remain high, and Trump’s notorious inconsistency and irritability cannot be dismissed.
North Korea has a history of promising big and then working in secret to advance its program. Since the Trump administration has deliberately degraded the U.S. diplomatic capacity and nonproliferation expertise, Pyongyang would enjoy an advantage in the period following a summit.
China made clear through Kim’s visit that it will not be sidelined in important conversations and developments on the future of the Korean Peninsula. Now, Xi has had the opportunity to influence the terms of any future agreement.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un went to Beijing after demonstrating that he is capable of standing up to the world, has complete control over his system, and can deal with the United States on his own.
As North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile capabilities mature, Washington should pursue a comprehensive and verified capping of Pyongyang’s nuclear program, pending total denuclearization at a later date.
John Bolton wants regime change in North Korea and Iran, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.
How well do the existing theories about nuclear proliferation predict North Korea’s successful nuclearization?
With US-Russian relations already confrontational and Sino-US relations becoming visibly more tense, the context for major power interaction on the North Korean nuclear issue has substantially changed from what it was only five years ago.