‘Disappointing’: Experts React To The United States-North Korea Summit

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photograph provided by The Strait Times, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella... SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photograph provided by The Strait Times, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear programme. (Photo by Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 12, 2018 11:23 a.m.

The verdict is in: Meh.

That’s generally how foreign affairs experts reacted to the historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. For the most part, experts agreed that Trump made more significant concessions than Kim; that North Korea has committed to denuclearization before and not followed through; and that even a weak agreement is better than war.

Here is a roundup of some of their reactions:

First is the deja vu camp. These experts have seen these pacts before, and despite all the pageantry from the Trump administration about the historic nature of this sit-down, they don’t see anything new here. What’s more, some of them see this agreement as even weaker than other administrations’ — particularly due to the ambiguity around the denuclearization logistics.

1) Heritage Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia Bruce Klinger, who served as CIA deputy division chief for Korea, on Twitter:

2) Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on Twitter:

3) James Acton, senior associate of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on Twitter:

4) New York Times National Security correspondent David Sanger to CNN’s Poppy Harlow: “The words complete denuclearization are there, but they’re nowhere defined and there’s no timetable,” he said. “Previous agreements have committed North Korea to allowing [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors back into the country, to adhering to international arms control treaties, and so forth.”

5) Vipin Narang, MIT associate professor specializing in nuclear proliferation in North Korea, on Twitter: 

6) Josh Smith, the Reuters senior correspondent covering the Koreas, on Twitter:

The other group homes in on Trump’s concessions, noting that his agreement to cease United States-South Korea military exercises is a big win for Kim, and was made without getting the United States anything significant in return.

7) General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, to CNN’s John Berman: “The North Koreans did not come with anything new,” he said. “The new element is that we agreed to stop our annual exercise cycle with our South Korean allies. That’s actually a pretty significant concession.”

8) Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, on CBS:

9) Julian Borger, The Guardian’s world affairs editor, on Twitter: 

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