Ciboski: What Will A U.S.-North Korea Meeting Achieve?

May 30, 2018

It again seems likely that the United States-North Korea summit will take place next month. Delegations from both countries have arrived in Singapore to work out logistical problems and other issues for the likely meeting.

Diplomatic and technical experts from the U.S. and North Korea met in the demilitarized zone of North Korea; President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone on Memorial Day. Abe is concerned that the U.S. could make a nuclear arms agreement with North Korea that would not protect Japan against North Korea’s short-range missiles. Additionally, Abe has asked Trump to raise the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea 40 years ago.

The White House has indicated that Trump and Abe have agreed on the objective of working to get the “complete and permanent disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs.” I say: Good luck with that.

I think it is highly doubtful that a completely disarmed North Korea will be achieved. After all, the well-armed country’s leadership views its military as a way to guarantee its security. Furthermore, negotiations are a form of warfare for a communist country like North Korea. Communist negotiators are capable of a two-steps-backward-for-one-forward kind of agreement. The top leadership of North Korea will set limits on what Kim Jong Un can do in negotiations. Also, China will have a role in determining the content of any agreement.

We should hope, too, that U.S. negotiators, including President Trump, are well versed in the history of the Korean peninsula as it relates to Japan and China if we are to avoid any disasters.