North Korea: We Asked 9 of the World's Leading Experts What Happens Next
Is war still possible? Could we convince Kim to give up his nukes? An all-star group of Korea watchers gives us some insights.
Ankit Panda, Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang did not go well. Though the United States and North Korea have set up a working group-level process to see through the implementation of the June 12 Singapore declaration signed by President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, it appears that the U.S. side has a considerably different interpretation of what the document says compared to the North Koreans.
Before going to Pyongyang, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert outlined that Pompeo would be seeking the "final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, as agreed by Chariman Kim in Singapore." There's just one problem with that: that's not what Kim agreed to in Singapore and there's a document with his name on it to prove it. North Korea signed on to work "towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Pompeo should know this, but he chose to make unilateral North Korean disarmament the objective in Pyongyang. This was why the North Korean Foreign Ministry pushed back in the aftermath of his trip, telling the secretary to leave demands for unilateral denuclearization at the door if he wants to set up a productive diplomatic process.
The future of the current round of U.S.-North Korea talks will depend primarily on whether the U.S. is willing to come back to the table with North Korea having read the Singapore declaration for what it is. If that doesn't happen soon, this process might collapse like so many before it.