Talk is cheap, as many in the Donald Trump administration are learning this week.
After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to meet with the US President on June 12 in Singapore, he quickly began to take back some of those promises and reveal a harsher tone with the U.S. regarding the planned summit. Shortly after the two leaders agreed to the terms of the historic meetings, Kim and his administration in Pyongyang have attempted to call more of the shots regarding the summit’s agenda and other details. Last week North Korean leaders threatened to withdraw from the planned summit if the US continued to demand that they cease their nuclear program completely. While some political experts believe that this is merely Kim trying to gain the upper hand leading into the meetings, others are becoming more and more skeptical that the meetings will not happen as planned and that Kim is not as committed to denuclearization as he claims to be.
The Trump administration has the chance to get a better grasp on the escalating situation when South Korean President Moon Jae-in pays a visit to the White House on Tuesday. Moon is committed to seeing the summit through to its fruition, as his bordering country has arguably the most to gain from the denuclearization of North Korea. Political experts believe that Moon will do everything in his power to keep the summit as planned, meaning that he will need to convince Trump to stay the course and take the higher road when Kim begins to inevitably goad him. Over the last week, the two leaders and their administrations have worked as a unit to try to understand Kim’s threats and to decide the best collective course of action.
South Korea and other American allies worry that if the summit is canceled, the U.S. will be forced to take military action against North Korea in an attempt to control their nuclear program. Last week Trump issued a bold threat against Pyongyang when he stated that North Korea could be “decimated” and end up like Iraq and Libya if they refuse to comply with the denuclearization deal.