- The goal of denuclearization is just as far away as it was before President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met, a national security expert told Business Insider.
- Trump has praised the “great progress” he and Kim made towards denuclearization at Tuesday’s summit in Singapore.
- But the joint statement the two world leaders signed is little different from April’s Panmunjom Declaration and years of pledges from North Korea.
Despite a joint statement signed by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the goal of denuclearization is “just as far off today as it was yesterday,” a national security expert has told Business Insider.
At Tuesday’s summit, Trump told reporters that the negotiations had gone “better than anybody could have expected.” In the afternoon, he and Kim issued a statement which said the North Korean leader “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
And since leaving Singapore, the president has tweeted that “great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea.” “The world has taken a big step back from potential nuclear catastrophe! No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research!” he also tweeted.
But Ned Price, who served in the Obama administration as a special assistant to the president and as a National Security Council spokesperson, told Business Insider that in reality essentially nothing has changed.
“Diplomacy will always be better than war, and we should hope that continued engagement moves the ball forward toward denuclearization. But that goal is just as far off today as it was yesterday,” Price said.
Of four pledges made in Trump and Kim’s joint statement, the text regarding denuclearization reads: “Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
In a press conference, Trump said he spoke with Kim about verifying any denuclearization, a longstanding staple of the US’s policy, but said there was “there was no time” to include those details in the statement.
This means that, in writing, Kim pledged to do little more than he had already promised when he signed an agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in nearly two months ago. In that agreement, both North and South Korea said they have a “common goal of realising, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”
And North Korea has offered strikingly similar pledges before – the first being made 26 years ago.
“We shouldn’t pretend we haven’t seen this movie before. We have. We know how it could end unless the Trump administration is capable of writing a different ending. Nothing we’ve seen to-date should give us confidence that’s the case,” said Price, who served in the CIA for 11 years before but resigned after working under Trump and is now the Director of Policy at the think tank National Security Action, which opposes some of Trump’s foreign policies.
Price added: “What could be more Trumpian than an effort to brand something that’s been tried by previous American presidents as unprecedented and historic? Ignorance of history can make a president look foolish… but that same ignorance can be dangerous, as when it rears its head in negotiations about the most pressing national security challenge we face.”
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