On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-Un met in Singapore’s iconic Sentosa Island. The summit between both leaders from two world nuclear powers was a highly anticipated event around the globe; Trump is the first U.S. president to meet a North Korean president.
The agreement Trump and Jong-Un signed consists of four main points:
- North Korea and the U.S agree and commit to establishing a new relationship for the peace and prosperity of both nations.
- The two countries will jointly work to build a stable and lasting peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, “the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
- Both countries “commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”
The summit is hoped to end the hostilities between the nations which have lasted for the 60 plus years since the Korean war broke out. The conflict between North and South Korea took place from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953, and stemmed largely from the Cold War which split the Korean peninsula in half. The so-called proxy war killed millions of people and ended in a ceasefire. In April of 2018, North and South Korea met at the demilitarized zone and agreed to sign a treaty by the end of the year to officially end the Korean War.
On April 21 renewed hope for a peaceful Korean Peninsula began when Jong-Un announced North Korea would stop nuclear and missile test, saying that the country had proven its nuclear power. A week later, Jong-Un also met with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at Korean border.
“The world will see a major change.”
Jong-Un announced his appreciation for his counterpart’s effort to make the meeting happen after Trump canceled the original meeting intended to be held on May 24.
“The world will see a major change. I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump for making this meeting happen,” the 35-year-old president said.
Jong-Un also added that he and Trump have vowed to leave the past behind and look to the future.
Trump said that the U.S. would end the controversial “war games” held on the Korean peninsula. The war games have always been a point of contention for North Korea. North Korea has always viewed joint military exercises carried out by the U.S. and South Korea on the peninsula as rehearsals for war with North Korea and, thus, reason for North Korea to maintain a nuclear arsenal.
“Adversaries can indeed become friends,” Trump stated.
The billionaire president only said that the nuclear disarmament would start very, very quickly when asked about the agreement’s meaning to the East Asian nation’s denuclearization.
Despite Trump deeming the agreement as “comprehensive”, it does not explain what “complete denuclearization” means.
The world may celebrate Trump and Jong-Un’s effort to meet in Singapore and to sign an agreement, but a major change is never easy and without challenges. The signed document did not describe in detail what “complete denuclearization” means.
Many experts warn that both nations may have different perceptions of what “complete denuclearization” means. For North Korea, it may mean they will fully dismantle their arsenal only if the U.S. fulfills specific requirements, namely the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. It could also mean requiring the U.S. scrap the regional nuclear umbrella, which stipulates that the U.S. would retaliate if its allies are attacked with nuclear weapons.
For the U.S. “complete denuclearization” typically means North Korea gives up its nuclear arsenal without any exceptions.
The U.S currently has 32,000 soldiers in South Korea which Trump said he hoped to bring back home. “I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home,” Trump said. “But that’s not part of the equation right now. I hope it will be eventually.”
The Trump-Kim agreement also did not discuss details of existing economic sanctions imposed on North Korea or the U.S. commitment to provide security guarantees to North Korea. President Trump did put a freeze on imposing any new sanctions on North Korea. Li Nan, the China-based senior analyst, stated that it is too early to call the summit the turning point of the U.S.-North Korea relationship.
“It is likely to be criticized by many observers who object to Trump dealing with Kim without tangible North Korean commitments to real, rapid denuclearization, although such commitments were never a realistic expectation,” said Andrew Gilholm, director of North Asia analysis at Control Risks in his email to CNBC.
The agreement between Trump and Kim Jong-Un stipulated that more meetings would be held between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials “at the earliest possible date.”
According to Trump, Jong-Un told him after signing the agreement that North Korea would destroy a missile engine testing site as a confidence-building measure –a move, which Trump called a “big thing.”