From what I can tell, the summit in Singapore produced a “small ball” agreement. North Korea will return the recovered remains of POW/MIAs and work with us to recover and return additional remains. It will also shutter one missile engine testing site. The U.S. will stop holding the regular “war games” it conducts in conjunction with South Korea.
(It’s not clear how the South Koreans feel about ending the “war games,” but they pushed for the summit and must have known or assumed that the “war games” were the table. In any event, the war games can always be resumed if relations with North Korea take a turn for the worse).
That’s it. The rest of the paper the two parties signed is just big talk — an expression of aspirations, some of which the parties probably don’t share, with no commitment to do anything concrete. Keep in mind, however, that North Korea had already made concessions just to get the summit. It agreed to stop testing and it returned Americans it held captive.
My verdict? This was the optimal realistic outcome. If the parties had put tried flesh on the bones of “denuclearization” and “peace and prosperity,” the talks would have produced only acrimony. Kim was never going to agree to denuclearize and Trump wasn’t going to ease up on sanctions without some movement towards denuclearization.
If the parties hadn’t made their mini-trade, they would have left Singapore without having agreed to anything tangible. With the trade, the meeting produced more than just a photo-op and a meaningless piece of paper.
I hoped the meeting would (1) produce a working relationship between U.S. president and the leader of the world’s newest nuclear power and (2) eliminate, or at least substantially diminish, the prospect of North Korea sharing nuclear technology with our enemies.
The first goal was achieved. We can’t be sure about the second, but it seems unlikely now that Kim will jeopardize his improved relationship with the U.S. by dealing with nations like Iran and Syria or with terrorists.
The Washington Post says: “Whether Trump made a bold stroke for peace or gave away the store depended on one’s view.” The notion that he gave away the store is absurd. No sanction was lifted.
Just by meeting with Kim Jong Un, Trump made what can be called a bold stroke. To call it a bold stroke for peace would be premature.