Mounting evidence suggests that despite his self-professed dealmaking skills, Trump did not leave the historic summit with the decision he sought.
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swatted away such concerns, asserting that the two leaders had reached a clear understanding in their private exchange. They pointed to North Korea’s return of remains of American soldiers and its dismantlement of a satellite launch site as evidence of progress. Trump went even further, proclaiming that the North Korea nuclear problem had been “solved.” This likely reflected his faith in the importance of personal relationships and his belief that he and Kim had forged a personal bond in Singapore, and therefore the threat from North Korea had diminished.
But the problem has not been solved and in fact the threat has only grown since Singapore. In the intervening weeks, North Korea reportedly has been upgrading nuclear and missile facilities
, increasing production of fuel for nuclear bombs at secret sites, building new long-range missiles, and exploring ways to hide the extent of its nuclear weapons program from the United States. While these reported activities do not violate the vague text of the Singapore summit joint statement, they shatter its spirit.
Perhaps more importantly, they call into question the underlying assumption of Trump’s engagement with Kim Jong Un in the first place — that North Korea wants to exchange its nuclear and missile programs for a more prosperous future for its people.