The joint statement signed by both leaders contained exactly zero new commitments, and in fact undercut previous negotiations by failing to provide any timeline for North Korea’s promised denuclearization efforts.
Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at New America, offered this sobering assessment: “The summit statement is big on hyperbole and short on substance – it reads like it was written by the North Korean negotiating team.”
Naturally, Donald Trump and his administration were quick to celebrate the Singapore summit as a resounding success, and dismissed the combined decades of experience telling him otherwise by pointing out he shook on it.
I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
On Sunday, the Washington Post published a lengthy story detailing some of the inner conversations within the White House about the fallout from the North Korea talks, and — surprise! — the North Korea experts were right.
Well over a month has passed since Trump handed a massive public relations victory to North Korea, and since then, officials in Pyongyang have done little else besides embarrass and humiliate their Washington, DC counterparts. Several follow-up meetings that were scheduled have been canceled or indefinitely postponed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been stood up at least twice by North Korean officials, and when the Pentagon sent several officials to meet with representatives from North Korea last week at the demilitarized zone, they were left waiting for three hours before finally being told the meeting wouldn’t be happening at all.
Meanwhile, several of the promises Trump claimed to have extracted from North Korea have gone unfulfilled. A missile-testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains untouched. Not a single Korean War service member’s remains have been returned to the United States, despite Trump’s claim that 200 fallen soldiers have already been repatriated. And there is evidence that North Korea is working to conceal the true scope of its nuclear weapons program despite its purported commitment to denuclearization.
All of which has led Trump to privately fume over being outmaneuvered and hustled by the world’s most notorious dictator, even as he continues to insist publicly that the negotiations were a resounding success. According to the Washington Post, Trump has requested daily briefings about the status of the ongoing discussions with North Korea, and is angry that the media’s assessment of his sham summit has largely come to pass. Perhaps next time he should insist upon a pinky promise.
Before agreeing to the summit, Trump spent weeks threatening Kim Jong Un with nuclear weapons. Experts now have begun to express concern that Trump’s notoriously short temper might jeopardize what little diplomacy actually exists between the two countries.
“I worry that Trump might lose patience with the length and complexities of negotiations that are common when dealing with North Korea and walk away and revert back to serious considerations of the military option,” Duyeon Kim, an expert on Korea from the Center for a New American Security, told the Washington Post.