Denuclearize first, talk sanctions after: What historic US-N. Korea summit promised to the world
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore on Tuesday. The preparations for the high-level meeting involved many ups and downs, and it was even almost cancelled due to a change of heart by Trump.
After the first face-to-face encounter and handshakes in the morning, the leaders proceeded to closed-door talks. The whole negotiations process required Trump to stay up for more than 24 consecutive hours, as he later revealed at a media briefing. Several of those hours were spent discussing the details of the joint “comprehensive” agreement with Kim.
‘Complete’ denuclearization to start ‘very quickly’
One of the major steps sealed in the four-point document is “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” While neither the timing nor details of the commitment is provided in the text, Trump later said during a news conference that Pyongyang would start the process “very quickly” and “a lot of people” would be sent to North Korea to verify it.
Pyongyang still has a sizeable number of nukes, according to Trump. Pressed by journalists as to whether he believed in the North Korean leader’s commitments, Trump said that he believes Kim was determined to de-nuclearize.
Previously, the North Korean leader said that the country would actually have no need for nukes if it had security guarantees. This concern of the communist state also found its place in the final document, which said that “Trump committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.
The first steps for scrapping the nuclear program were made even before the summit, as Pyongyang demolished its nuclear test site last month. More is to come, according to Trump, as the North will also get rid of missile-engine testing areas.
Cessation of ‘provocative & expensive’ war games
The American-led military drills on North Korea’s doorstep have always drawn Pyongyang’s ire. Despite calls not to further ignite tensions in the region, mainly from Russia and China, Washington maintained that the maneuvers are an annual event, and purely defensive in nature.
After the lengthy talks, Trump realized that the war games were “provocative” and might badly affect the negotiations process. Additionally, the cessation of the exercises will save a “tremendous amount of money” for American taxpayers as it was “very expensive” for US bombers to fly six hours from Guam.
Speaking about the 32,000-strong US military contingent based in South Korea, the president said that he would ideally “like to bring them home, but that’s not part of the equation right now.”
However, the US military in Korea (USFK) has not received new directives from the US Department of Defense regarding the joint drills, USFK spokesperson Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett said.
Sanctions are not going anywhere
The “special bond” between Trump and Kim and the announced “unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization” apparently are not enough to lift or ease the existing punitive measures against Pyongyang, as Trump said they are to remain in effect but could be lifted.
“The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor,” Trump told reporters in Singapore. “I hope it is soon... at a certain point, I look forward to taking them off.”
North Korea is currently the subject of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and, additionally, is impacted by unilateral restrictive measures by the US. The latest several rounds of international sanctions crippled North Korea’s main revenue sources – the exports of coal, iron, textiles and seafood. They also severely limited the annual import of refined petroleum to 500,000 barrels.
Meanwhile, China, the main economic lifeline for the North, said that the diplomatic steps should be rewarded and suggested that the UN should ease the sanctions.