Nuclear arms control expert explains elements necessary for Hanoi Summit success

Feb 27, 2019

President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un
Credit Wikimedia Commons

What should the world expect from a second nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un? Kelsey Davenport with the Arms Control Association visited Grand Rapids this week as guest speaker of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. She explains that while both sides agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula during the first summit in Singapore, it failed to produce concrete results.

“The second summit is a chance to reset the U.S. North Korean diplomatic relationship. And if President Trump could walk away from the summit with an agreement from Kim to pursue a step-by-step approach toward denuclearization, that held Kim accountable for concrete, verifiable steps that rolled back North Korea’s nuclear program, I think that would be a success.”

What will it take for North Korea to denuclearize when that’s the one card it has to play?

“Well, North Korea is not going to give up its nuclear weapons absent a significant shift in its relationship with the United States. North Korea is fundamentally concerned that at some point the United States may seek to overthrow the Kim regime and it views its nuclear weapons as a guarantee against that type of hostile U.S. takeover. So, what the United States needs to put on the table is a serious package that addresses North Korea’s security concerns. I think the United States is going to need to look at options that formally end the Korean War. That perhaps includes a peace treaty and some security guarantees that demonstrates to Kim that it does not have anything to fear from a hostile or coercive U.S. military presence in the region and that the United States does not have its sights set on toppling the regime in Pyongyang. Then, we might see North Korea willing to take those last steps to give up its nuclear weapons program. In the interim though, the United States should be looking at smaller steps that reduce the threat posed by the program and prevent North Korea from expanding it further. You know denuclearization is going to be a years-long goal. It’s not going to happen overnight but we can take steps in the interim that reduce the risk.” 

Patrick Center, WGVU News.