Trump's DMZ Visit Was All Show No Substance




  • In World
  • 2019-07-14 21:02:00Z
  • By The National Interest
 

Sukjoon Yoon

Security, Asia

This unprecedented three-way summit was a made-for-TV spectacular designed for Trump and Kim's domestic audiences.

Trump's DMZ Visit Was All Show No Substance

President Donald Trump, accompanied by North Korea's Kim Jong-un, crossed the border at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on June 30 and became the first sitting president to step onto North Korean soil. South Korean president Moon Jae-in was also present and keen to help mediate between the United States and North Korea in hopes of reviving denuclearization talks, which have stalled since the debacle of the abandoned February Hanoi summit.

This unprecedented three-way summit appears to have been essentially a made-for-TV spectacular designed for Trump and Kim's domestic audiences. Trump's publicity machine constantly emphasizes the feel-good one-to-one personal relationship between Trump and Kim, but a fundamental question remains: Is there or will there be any actual progress on denuclearization?

So, what did Chairman Kim get from the meeting? It seems he is closer to persuading Trump to accept the North Korean agenda: no pressure for regime change, and a freeze on North Korea's missile and nuclear program instead of a ban, thus tacitly recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power. It probably means that the dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear facility will be traded for the partial lifting of sanctions against North Korea. If this is the outcome, then clearly Kim will be the big winner from the meeting.

And what about President Moon? Despite his broad smiles during the photo session, he seems ready to make significant concessions to the United States. These may include joining in with sanctions against Huawei, participating in U.S.-led Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, buying more U.S.-made weapons and systems, and agreeing to increased burden-sharing to support the U.S. military presence. Any such concessions would reveal Moon as a serious loser from the meeting.

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