CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

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Issue in foreign Policy


Expected Outcomes of the Trump-Kim Meet


Introduction

June 12, 2018 will mark a historic date for the worlds nuclear bearings. This date will see two of the world's greatest leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, come together for an armistice to discuss the complete nuclear disarmament of the latter's nation; and can be well termed as the greatest political gamble of the present century.

Though in the past, former Presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have paid visits to the volatile state, this is the first time that a sitting US President will be conducting a meeting with a set focused agenda: the complete denuclearisation of North Korea and a halt on production and usage of its Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM).  

As of today North Korea possesses the powerful Hawsong-14, an intercontinental ballistic missile that has the power to travel up to 8,000 kilometres, enough to strike parts of the US. As part of its nuclear assemblage, North Korea also retains many medium range missiles like the Pukkuksong-1 and Hwasong-12 that are enough to cause mass scale destruction in the Sea of Japan and South Korea alike. Bearing the duty of safeguarding his country, it only makes sense that Trump wants North Korea to denounce its nuclear schemes entirely. North Korea on the other hand has demanded the removal of economic and trade sanctions by the US along with the disposal of American troops from South Korea, a consequence of the Korean War.

The term denuclearisation however, may mean different things to America and North Korea. What does the North Korean leader understand by it or schemes to do, remain uncertain. In the most optimistic of scenarios, the Trump-Kim meeting might bear fruits of world peace and everyone present on the negotiating table goes back with something concrete. However, the case of certain misunderstanding quickly turning into a cause of war between the US and North Korea, is also not being ruled out by the analysts.  

Positive outcomes of this summit  

In the most favourable of situations, if the meeting between Trump and Kim thrives, the inaccessible nation of North Korea will have to open its door to peace and accord. This would definitely make North Korea more involved in trade and transactions with the rest of the world, which as of now fears this instable militarised nation.

In such a situation, Trump without doubt will be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize because of his initiative to restore world peace by restricting the use and development of nuclear weapons. Though being a nuclear state itself, America will be applauded for its contribution for the security of the other nations from Kim's combatant and nuclear threat. Being the chief influencer to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, Moon Jae-in will also get to cut a small portion of the profits for his nation. With the ever present threat of North Korea attacking his nation gone, Moon will be in a position to start talks about strengthening ties with the northern part. A formal end to the Korean War will thus follow. This will further help establish a unified Korean peninsula and hopefully also assure free trade and population movement between the two nations.  

While North Korea might find a limited hold over the rest of the world, a successful meeting with Trump will also have certain positive implications for this nation. For starters, if Kim is to accept Trump's condition of total denuclearisation of the state, in return, he will also put pressure for the fulfilment of his demands. That means that Trump will have to lift the economic and trade sanctions that America has imposed on North Korea. With these sanctions gone, the North Korean economy will sky rocket and a lot of the fiscal problems of the nation will be resolved. Kim has also insisted on the disposition of the American army from South Korea. If this is to happen, America's power in the peninsula will decrease thus satisfying the desires of North Korea.  

Negative outcomes of this summit  

America's method of maximum pressure technique on North Korea by issuing sanctions and trade barriers was met by Kim's coercive use of nuclear threats. The hostilities between the US and North Korea is not new. Both sides have earlier been seen throwing public insults at each other through tweets and public comments. It went to the extent that Trump called Kim the 'little rocket man' and openly threatened to "press the nuclear button that is bigger than North Korea's". North Korea on the other hand has not published any direct statements, both regarding the earlier meeting held with its South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in or the upcoming meeting with Trump. Thus, North Korea seems to be playing it safe by not stating anything on record. It can thus very well go back on its words later since none of it was delivered in public understanding. The major dilemma here remains that this meeting is being built on great expectations with zero trust between Washington and Pyongyang.  

Through an intermediate channel however, Kim has delivered his message to Trump "Denuclearisation can be discussed", making it pretty evident that he is not up for a situation of complete disposal of his weapons that he has spent years developing and honing. As of now, both sides seem to be armed with false perceptions of who has the upper hand in this deal. While analysts say that North Korea might repeat history by prolonging the talks till Trump's term gets over, they also believe that America will not take such tactics lightly. Any side winning on the cost of the other will lead to a definite political imbalance that will have major implications for the world power landscape.  

Donald Trump is known to take pride in his tactical and diplomatic skills. Being able to get a North Korean leader to the negotiating table, even if it was with the aid of the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, has just added another feather to Trump's hat. If the deal is to not end satisfactorily, America will face major embarrassment worldwide. America's adversaries will be the first one to glorify its loss in securing a good deal with North Korea when the situation had presented itself. This would definitely mean a diminishing stature for America in the world politics for future negotiations.  

If the negotiations don't work out, it is well anticipated that North Korea will resume its nuclear development with even greater speed. A nation already well equipped with the latest technology in nuclear weapons will not take long to develop a greater range of missiles that might even go ahead to target Washington. And this will not go well with America. They are bound to retaliate with even greater pressure and anguish, adding weight to Trump 'response with fire and fury'. The world will see two powerful nations at loggerheads with each other both politically and militarily. They are both bound to involve their allies; Japan supporting the US and China providing cheap materials to North Korea; a scenario that can may ultimately shape the start of World War 3.

To add to this, other chief foreign actors like China and Japan have not been actively involved in this situation. Both the nations were informed of such a negotiation after the official announcement for the same was made by the White House. This has resulted in severe breach of trust in their minds. Japan on one hand might fear for it future security if America was to join hands with its major opponent i.e. North Korea. China on the other hand, which was a North Korean ally earlier, was made to partially isolate the state by America which threatened to dissolve Chinese trade with the US. Now if a joint venture is to take place, China would be pushed towards the corner, something that will not go well with the Chinese government.

Conclusion  

Whatever may be the outcome of this meet; both America and North Korea should realize that though they are the primary elements in this deal, the implications of this meet however, are surely not just bilateral. Hence, there is a need to involve other major nations like China, Japan and South Korea among others that are indirectly involved here to arrive at a better overall solution. Being two powerful nations, both of them should also take into account other security and political issues and not just try to get the bigger piece of the pie. Even in a situation where a good deal fails to occur, South Korea can make use of the newly developed understanding with North Korea and prevent an all out approach by them. South Korea can also limit the power of the US within its nation as a peace sign. This will make the best option in a bad situation. However, a well planned and articulated meeting will hopefully result in positive outcomes for not just these two nations, but also for the rest of the world.

Citation:  

BBC News (2018) 'North Korea's missile and nuclear programme' Retrieved on May 17, 2018, URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41174689  

Brookings (2018) 'Thinking the Unthinkable: War in the Korean peninsula'. Retrieved on May 15, 2018, URL:  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/fp_20180313_korea_war_transcript.pdf

Brookings (2018) 'Understanding the big downsides- and potential benefits- of the proposed Trump-Kim meeting' Retrieved on May 15, 2018 URL: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/03/12/understanding-the-big-downsides-and-potential-benefits-of-the-proposed-trump-kim-meeting/  

Dalton, T and Levite, A (2018) 'When Trump meets Kim Jong-Un: A Realistic Option for Negotiating with North Korea'. Retrieved on May 17, 2018, URL: https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/03/26/when-trump-meets-kim-jong-un-realistic-option-for-negotiating-with-north-korea-pub-75898  

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Lewis, J (2018) 'The Trump-Kim Summit Won't End Well'. Foreign Policy and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Retrieved on May 15, 2018, URL: https://www.nonproliferation.org/the-trump-kim-summit-wont-end-well/  

Nunn, S and Lugar, R (2018) 'What to do if the talks with North Korea succeed' Retrieved on May 18, 2018, URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/were-all-preparing-for-the-trump-kim-summit-to-go-wrong-but-what-if-it-goes-right/2018/04/23/77ada258-472c-11e8-9072-f6d4bc32f223_story.html?utm_term=.16d823452ba1  

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Williams, P (2018) 'North Korea: Donald Trump's unconventional style could succeed where others failed' Retrieved on May 28, 2018, URL: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-09/north-korea-could-donald-trump-succeed-where-others-failed/9531842