Can 2nd Trump-Kim summit quench their thirst for denuclearization?
By Wang Mengjie

Although U.S. President Donald Trump said he is "in no rush" to denuclearize the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), setting a plan for partial denuclearization seems urgent for the president at the second meeting with the DPRK leader.

Vague agreement

When Trump met with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018, they only came to a vague agreement that the DPRK would work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and has made little concrete progress since.

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Robert Manning, a senior fellow at a U.S. think tank, characterized the first Trump-Kim summit as "a missed opportunity" where "only vague and ambiguous language" came out of the joint statement issued by the two leaders and which lacked "any follow-up implementation process." 

For Robert Abrams, top U.S. commander on the Korean Peninsula, Trump's first handshake with Kim produced nothing "despite a reduction" in tensions with the DPRK.

Experts said the ideal deal for Washington at the second summit would be to secure from Pyongyang an agreement to disclose the inventory of its nuclear weapons as a sign of Kim's seriousness about eventual full denuclearization, according to the Voice of America.

The compromises

Both countries have tried to work toward a possible peace treaty despite the stalled denuclearization process since the Singapore summit.

For the U.S. side, Trump suspended several large joint military drills with the Republic of Korea (ROK) as part of an effort to ease tensions with Pyongyang, and he was also positive about the DPRK's economic development.

"North Korea (DPRK), under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse. He may surprise some but he won't surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea (DPRK) will become a different kind of Rocket - an Economic one!" the president tweeted.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) speaks to the media as he walks with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (R) during a break in talks at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018. /VCG Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) speaks to the media as he walks with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (R) during a break in talks at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018. /VCG Photo

For DPRK side, it halted testing of nuclear weapons last April, partially destroyed a test site last May, and has had no new nuclear missile tests so far.

However, these compromises so far haven't resulted in nuclear disarmament.

So, when the two countries talk about the denuclearization progress, what on earth do they consider?

Sanctions

Maybe they get stuck on the timeline – to ease the economic sanctions first, or complete denuclearization instead – that is the question.

The DPRK has sought to lift the punishing U.S.-led sanctions, a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and security guarantees.

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Asked whether Washington would consider lifting sanctions, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said: "We've been clear on sanctions. These are the world's sanctions and that is something that ... will continue to be maintained until we've achieved our final result of a fully, finally verified denuclearization."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Washington aimed to "get as far down the road as we can" with the DPRK.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) pose with ROK President Moon Jae-in (2nd R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook on the top of Mount Paektu, DPRK, September 20, 2018. /VCG Photo

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) pose with ROK President Moon Jae-in (2nd R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook on the top of Mount Paektu, DPRK, September 20, 2018. /VCG Photo

Trump and Kim would also be looking at the "denuclearization pillar they agreed to" in Singapore and how to reduce tension and military risk "so we can get peace and security on the peninsula as well," Pompeo added.

Earlier, Trump spoke with ROK President Moon Jae-in about the upcoming summit, and Moon told Trump his country was willing to have economic engagement with the DPRK if it will hasten Pyongyang's denuclearization.

Moon and Kim have held multiple summits in the past year and agreed to cooperate on everything from reducing border tensions to launching a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics.

But plans for economic projects, such as allowing the ROK's tourists to visit the DPRK, have been on hold while the U.S. keeps its sanctions in place.

While praising Trump's "leadership and firm resolve," Moon said he was ready to undertake anything from reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas to other inter-Korean economic cooperation to help on denuclearization, according to Moon's spokesman.

"We're determined to take up that role if President Trump asks; if that's the way to lessen the U.S. burden," Moon added.

(With input from agencies)