North Korea Summit


Kyle Platt

Donald Trump made history last year, becoming the first U.S. president to meet with the leader of North Korea.  The two met in Singapore on June 12, 2018, to talk primarily about relations between the two countries, as well as denuclearization of North Korea.  They signed a deal which both countries agreed was meant to establish new relations, begin denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and start recovering remains of soldiers lost in the Korean War.  Trump was extremely pleased after the meeting, claiming “…both sides will be very impressed with the result.”

While North Korea discontinued testing of its nuclear weapons, the denuclearization process never actually begun.  Although Trump made multiple claims that North Korea had started to denuclearize, experts countered that, saying that no evidence has revealed their progress towards diminishing their nuclear arsenal.  

A second meeting this year was planned in order to further improve relations and make progress on some of the previously discussed plans.  So, the two leaders decided to meet in February in Hanoi, Vietnam. Although the goal was to progress towards better relations, dissolved tensions and the beginning of a new chapter between North Korea and the United States, the recent meeting failed to do so.  Each side has made different claims about the specific details of the meeting, yet both agree that the desired progress has not been achieved.

President Trump’s plan was to create a deal which would require North Korea to begin dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities, however, he asserts that Kim would only be willing to eliminate their largest facility if the U.S. lifted their heavy sanctions on North Korea.  These sanctions are something that Trump is simply not willing to give up, especially if only to eliminate one nuclear center.

On the other side, North Korean minister Ri Yong-ho says his country only asked for some of the sanctions to be lifted in order to destroy the facility.  This disagreement in itself represents the low level of trust between the two nations, and how unwilling each is to give the other any leeway in terms of negotiations.  

While Trump clearly did not attain the headway he was looking for, he remains optimistic about the future of U.S.-North Korea relations, particularly involving the relationship between he and Kim.  Even though they did not agree on a deal, he maintains that “There’s a warmth that we have and I hope that stays.” North Korea agreed that the two would remain in contact and continue to move forward in a direction in which both countries could benefit.  

Despite the lack of a formal agreement, we have to realize that this is the most progress that has been made between any American presidential administration and North Korea.  It is likely that Trump and Kim will continue to further their relationship, and eventually begin denuclearization. While Americans shouldn’t be worried, we simply have to wait and see where talks will go.  Relations with North Korea could be sporadic in the next few years, but all we can hope for is a less heated future, and all we can do is wait.