MAK­ING HIS­TORY?

iran deal com­par­isons cloud sum­mit.

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW LEE

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tri­umphant as­ser­tions about the suc­cess of the un­prece­dented Sin­ga­pore sum­mit are be­ing met with skep­ti­cism and out­right de­ri­sion from crit­ics seiz­ing on the con­tra­dic­tion be­tween his with­drawal from the Iran nu­clear deal and his will­ing­ness to ac­cept vague pledges from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

White House of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly stressed that this week’s meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore is the be­gin­ning, not the end, of a process that Trump’s team ar­gues could have only been jump-started with the face-to-face meet­ing. The Sin­ga­pore sum­mit set out broad goals to be met in the com­ing months while the Iran deal, signed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2015 and ap­proved by seven na­tions, was an im­per­fect end to 18 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, they say. Crit­i­cism that Tues­day’s com­mit­ment does not in­clude specifics on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and ver­i­fi­ca­tion is too early, they ar­gue.

“While I am glad the pres­i­dent and Kim Jong Un were able to meet, it is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine what of con­crete na­ture has oc­curred,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. He said he wanted Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, who will lead the fol­low-on ne­go­ti­a­tions, to ex­plain de­tails of what the ad­min­is­tra­tion has in mind.

The top Demo­crat on that panel, Sen. Bob Me­nen­dez of New Jersey, who also op­posed the Iran deal, took is­sue with Trump’s zeal as well as his an­nounce­ment of the sus­pen­sion of U.S.-South Korea mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

“In ex­change for self­ies in Sin­ga­pore, we have un­der­mined our max­i­mum pres­sure pol­icy and sanc­tions,” Me­nen­dez said.

For Iran deal pro­po­nents, though, the Sin­ga­pore sum­mit was ev­i­dence of Trump’s lack of pre­pared­ness and poor ne­go­ti­at­ing skills. Iran deal op­po­nents, mean­while, seemed will­ing to wait and see.

Sen. Tom Cot­ton, R-Ark., a Trump ad­vo­cate and fer­vent Iran deal foe, urged pa­tience and sought to dis­pel sug­ges­tions that the pres­i­dent had un­wisely plunged into a meet­ing with a dic­ta­tor af­ter hav­ing with­drawn from the ac­cord with Tehran. He noted, as did other Trump al­lies, that North Korea al­ready had nu­clear weapons and the ca­pa­bil­ity to de­liver them whereas Iran did not.

“There is a school of thought that ... the United States pres­i­dent should not sit down with two-bit dic­ta­tors,” Cot­ton told con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor Hugh He­witt. “I think there’s some va­lid­ity to that school of thought with the ex­cep­tion (of) once those dic­ta­tors have nu­clear weapons.”

“You know, coun­tries like Iran and Cuba and other two-bit rogue regimes don’t have nu­clear weapons, yet,” he said. “They can’t threaten the United States in that way. Once they have mis­siles that can de­liver them to use, I would liken it to past pres­i­dents sit­ting down with Soviet dic­ta­tors.”

Vic­tor Cha, a Ge­orge­town Univer­sity pro­fes­sor and for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil direc­tor for Asia in Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, lamented that the sum­mit re­sults “left a lot to be de­sired.” But he also main­tained that the Trump-Kim meet­ing had re­duced the chance of con­flict even if it was only a “mod­est start.”

“De­spite its many flaws, the Sin­ga­pore sum­mit rep­re­sents the start of a diplo­matic process that takes us away from the brink of war,” Cha wrote in The New York Times in the im­me­di­ate after­math of the sum­mit. “Mr. Trump’s un­con­ven­tional ap­proach leaves a lot to be de­sired in the for­eign pol­icy of the United States, but there was no other path to this less-than-sat­is­fy­ing but di­gestible out­come.”

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