Kim - Trump Summit: Whose Nuclear Button Is Bigger?

Having canceled the summit with the DPRK leader, which was to be held on June 12 in Singapore, Donald Trump nevertheless retained a space for maneuver. In a letter to Kim Jong-un he wrote: "... I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. ... You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used." That is, on the one hand, Trump made it clear that that his nuclear button is bigger anyway, but on the other hand he said, that it would be nice if the meeting takes place.

It’s worth noting, that Trump found himself in a rather unpleasant position. Just before Mike Pence and John Bolton made statements that could be directed to torpedo the summit. Trump twisted the knife, when he said that he considers the Libyan scenario as one of the ways to pressure on the DPRK. And this is not a deal, but an invasion.

Also important is the statement by Choi Seung-hee, Deputy Foreign Minister of the DPRK, who said that "if the United States perceives negatively our good relation and continues to commit illegal and outrageous actions, I will send a proposal to our top leadership to review the plans to hold a summit between the DPRK and USA".

It is likely that the American president's inner circle decided that if the North Koreans break the deal and announce that they do not want to meet, it will be a more serious humiliation than if Trump announces it himself. Because the first decision maker looks like he controls the situation. But everything turned out the opposite way: Kim showed himself to be a man who honestly fulfills obligations, and Trump - acting according to the principle "My word: I gave it, I took it back."

Despite this, the North Korean response was very polite and restrained, although we should keep in mind, that the answer to the letter was given not by Kim Jong-un, but by Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, who expressed regret for the cancellation of the summit and the hope for talks in the future. Let’s not forget, that on May 16 he made it clear, that the DPRK does not plan to denuclearize unilaterally.

In this regard, one more interesting question appears: how will find himself the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who, in fact, misinformed Washington, declaring that the North Koreans are ready for denuclearization without any preconditions. Formally, Trump blamed Kim for the failure of the meeting on June 12. However, the relationship between Seoul and Washington is an important moment that should be monitored. It is possible, that the South Koreans will begin to meet troubles in the economic sphere. Trump can stick a craw-bar in the wheel. After all, he constantly repeats that security is security, and economy is an economy.

There is one more important point. It is not excluded that the US can shift the focus of tension to Taiwan or Iran. On June 12, the opening of the representation office of the American Institute in Taiwan will take place. Many believe that the US national security adviser John Bolton will go there. And now imagine, although this is purely hypothetical, if the US president himself comes there. This would be a serious insult against China. There is an opinion, that China is being pushed to take aggressive actions against Taiwan, so that in the context of the trade war between China and the US, Washington can impose Russian-style sanctions against China.

Thus, we cannot expect sharp drops in Kim-Trump relations if, again, Trump and his team do not introduce any new sanctions against North Korea.

Meanwhile, on May 25, Donald Trump "returned everything back," stating that the summit could take place on the same date, and the technical talks continue to go on. A day later, Moon and Kim held a blitz summit, during which they discussed the situation for two hours, and rumors began circulating in the presidential administration that Moon would like to be the third person in Singapore.

Consultations should end on May 29, but for now the general mood of the experts is reduced to the following questions: "What was that? Extreme test of Kim's weakness? Demonstration that Trump is as fickle as the wind? One thing is clear - until June 12 we can still wait for miracles of diplomatic equilibristic.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.