North Korea Denuclearization Plan Has Gone Nowhere Since Trump-Kim Summit

After meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past June, President Trump was effusive.

“Our conversation was open, honest, direct and very, very productive,” he said. “We produced something that is beautiful.”

But after five months of canceled meetings and muted statements of dissatisfaction by both countries, experts say there is no sign of progress toward the Singapore goal of so-called “denuclearization” of the North.

“I think right now, we are absolutely stuck,” says Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Terry and others trace the source of the problem to the “beautiful” document signed in June by Trump and Kim. Known as the Singapore Declaration, it laid out, in the broadest terms, how the U.S. and North Korea could learn to get along.

In just over 400 words, it says that the U.S. will normalize relations with North Korea in exchange for “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But it does not specify a process or even an order in which these goals would occur.

Since the summit, North Korea has said normalization must start before denuclearization, while the U.S. maintains that the North must hand over its nuclear weapons before any normalization can begin.

“We are asking North Korea to move first, and North Korea is asking the United States to take the next step,” Terry says.

As a result, the situation looks very similar to how it did in June.

Last week, Terry’s colleagues published satellite photos showing an operating North Korean missile base near the South Korean border. The U.S. wants North Korea to declare such bases, but the North has so far refused to do so.

Meanwhile, Kim has urged the U.S. to drop sanctions ahead of denuclearization activities, but the U.S. refuses to budge.

“We’re at an impasse where we’re not going to give North Korea what they want, and the North Koreans are not giving us what we want,” says Jung Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Each week that passes without progress “really lays bare the anemic nature” of the Singapore Declaration, she says.

“We’re at a point where we have, in my opinion, almost an historic opportunity for a breakthrough in North Korea and we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs,” says Sig Hecker, a physicist at Stanford University who has made several trips to some of North Korea’s most sensitive nuclear facilities. He says the opportunity exists because Kim wants economic development, and Trump wants a big foreign policy win.

Hecker believes that the administration’s all-or-nothing approach to dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is unrealistic and the Singapore summit must be followed by “dogged diplomacy.” Full denuclearization might take a decade or so.

“It’s going to take a lot of trust-building and a lot of individual actions on each side to get there,” he says.

“I think what we need to do is try to get things on paper in greater detail,” says Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What’s needed to follow the Singapore Declaration, he says, is a document more like the old arms control agreements between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Those treaties went on for tens of pages and laid out clear rules for the Cold War adversaries.

“We didn’t like [the Soviets], we didn’t trust them, but by having very extensive carefully delineated text, we could move forward on capping and thinning down weapons programs,” he says.

Shouting ‘Mexico First,’ Hundreds In Tijuana March Against Migrant Caravan

The message for the migrant caravan was clear from marchers on Sunday in Tijuana, Mexico: We don’t want you here.

“We want the caravan to go; they are invading us,” said Patricia Reyes, a 62-year-old protester, hiding from the sun under an umbrella. “They should have come into Mexico correctly, legally, but they came in like animals.”


Mexican Protesters In Tijuana Demand Caravan Migrants Be Deported
A few hundred Tijuanenses gathered in the city’s high-end Rio area to protest the groups migrating from Central American countries.

Demonstrators held signs reading “No illegals,” “No to the invasion” and “Mexico First.” Many wore the country’s red, white and green national soccer jersey and vigorously waved Mexican flags. The crowd often slipped into chants of “Ti-jua-na!” and “Me-xi-co!” They sang the national anthem several times.

The march is a foreboding sign for the migrants who have formed caravans to cross Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States. Many, but not all, of the migrants have come to Tijuana, which borders San Diego, to request asylum in the U.S. They come primarily from Honduras, though some are from other Central American countries. A number of the asylum-seekers say they can’t return home after receiving threats from street gangs such as MS-13 and the 18th Street gang, as well as threats from government figures in their countries.

But that process could take months, and the Trump administration is working to block them from entering with new rules to limit asylum.

While the protesters numbered only a few hundred, in a city of more than 1.6 million, vitriol against the migrants has spread across social media in Tijuana in recent days.

“They should create concentration and deportation camps with federal funds,” wrote one commenter on the Facebook page organizing the march.

“Tijuana is a place that welcomes anyone, but you must have papers, you must identify yourself,” demonstrator Magdalena Baltazar said on Sunday, as she waved a Mexican flag and marched through the city. “We work hard here. We don’t get handouts. The government shouldn’t be giving things to migrants when plenty of Mexicans are in a difficult position.”

Most of the protesters said the migrants should be detained and deported.

The marchers had intended to head to the mayor’s office to demand action but, as police cars raced ahead to block intersections, many protesters veered off, heading toward a shelter where more than 2,500 migrants are staying, according to Tijuana city officials.

“Say that to my face,” a protester yelled back.

A few blocks ahead, a family stood on a balcony and shouted at the protesters.

“This is not what Tijuana is like!” cried an elderly woman. “All migrants are welcome here!”

A block away from the shelter, local police in riot gear set up a barricade. Some marchers yelled, shoved and threw water at the officers, but they could not advance.