US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un finally met on Tuesday, after weeks of will-they-won’t they discussions, following almost a year of public feuding between the world leaders on and off Twitter.
In September 2017, Trump made headlines the way he knows best by calling the North Korean leader ‘little rocket man’. Fast forward nine months later, and America’s loudest mouth has finally met North Korea’s biggest ego – or some other variation of that.
After their meeting in Singapore on Tuesday, which lasted 41 minutes and had no reporters present, both leaders greeted the press with news of a newly formed denuclearization agreement. Trump, beaming with pride, alongside Kim, appearing typically demure, signed a document that – press were led to believe – agreed to halt new sanctions on North Korea, and power down South Korea’s military presence on the border, in exchange for North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Americans can be forgiven for thinking that the Singapore summit was a significant gain for nuclear peace between the Kim Dynasty and the White House. The meeting was touted as all things: a meeting of minds, a chance for peace, the ultimate negotiation, and, of course, impossible under the Obama administration.
The Singapore Mint even unveiled three commemorative coins to celebrate the meeting, which, according to a press release, is a “momentous step to world peace”. And, of course, the White House gift shop made their own.
On Wednesday evening we appeared to gain some clarification from US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who seemed to assure reporters that the agreement with North Korea depends on the verifiable denuclearization.
Of course, this is not the first time North Korea has agreed to kill off its nuclear weapons. In 1994, under Bill Clinton, the US and North Korea agreed to a pact whereby North Korea gave up its plutonium in exchange for aid. In fact, this agreement lasted for around 8 years, until North Korea began to pursue enriched uranium instead, and George W. Bush’s administration did not play it cool.
In reality, the three or four times the North Korean regime has agreed to nuclear disarmament over the past two decades have all been ‘reaffirmations’, where the supreme leader reassures world leaders that he intends to finally give up the goods. History tells us that the level of posturing from the nation’s respective leaders could be key to the strength of the new deal. A good summary of North Korea’s past agreements can be found over at Wired.