From deal deets to denuking, seven questions get answered
What’s the best-case and worst-case scenario we can hope for from the commitment between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un? And how can anyone be sure that North Korea is really denuclearizing?
Tuesday’s historic meeting of the two world leaders in Singapore left many open questions. Bloomberg hosted a live chat about the Trump-Kim summit on the LINE messaging app, where readers tuned in to have their questions answers by editors. The following is an abridged transcript.
1. Between Trump and Kim, who got the better deal?
Both Trump and Kim got things they want. Trump appears to have resolved the immediate threat of war and cast himself as a peacemaker. But Kim’s wins — suspended U.S. military drills, new international status, improved relations with China and South Korea and talk of easing sanctions — are more substantial.
2. How will this change relations between the U.S. and South Korea, particularly the presence of U.S. troops?
So far, Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are pretty much in line. There are still few details about Trump’s decision to suspend U.S. “war games” in South Korea, which could fuel discussion about a weakening of the alliance. While Trump has talked about lowering overseas troop deployments, he says that’s not on the table for South Korea right now.
3. How can anyone be sure that North Korea is really denuclearizing? And how can the U.S. make sure Kim will keep his commitments?
That’s perhaps the biggest of the many questions left unanswered by this joint statement yesterday. Not only was there no mention of verification and inspection, but the two sides didn’t establish what denuclearization means. Asked about this yesterday, Trump said: “I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly.”
4. Apart from denuclearization, could you give a quick recap of what was agreed to at the summit
There are four main points of the joint statement: establishing new U.S.-North Korea relations, building a lasting and stable peace regime, reaffirming North Korea’s commitment to “complete denuclearization” and repatriating American war dead. There’s also Trump’s decision to suspend military exercises.
5. Is this summit a gamechanger for Asia and the rest of the world? Which countries have the most riding on a concrete peace deal?
Rather than a gamechanger, this was more of a breakthrough in how the U.S. and North Korea talk to each other. Having open channels of communication can only minimize the risk of miscalculation. North Korea and South Korea have the most riding on a peace deal, but China, which is next door, is probably next in line.
6. What have observers been saying about the possibility of Trump (or Kim) getting a Nobel Peace Prize?
Moon says Trump deserves a Peace Prize. Others might say it’s Moon who is probably more deserving, since he was pushing Trump and Kim toward peace when they were still both threatening nuclear war. Others might say let’s wait until there’s an actual peace deal before we start doling out accolades.
7. Why has it taken this long to get North Korea to the table? What’s the bestcase and worst-case scenario we can hope for?
North Korea has resisted talks over the years because it disagreed with the U.S.’s preconditions — mainly, a clear commitment to an inspection-and-verification regime. But it has long wanted a meeting with a U.S. president. Trump’s decision to meet Kim without that clear path to denuclearization removed the roadblock.
Best-case scenario is the two sides start talking, North Korea decides the U.S. is no longer a threat and scales back its arsenal. Worst case is the U.S. decides North Korea isn’t cooperating and we go back to war threats.