Stories by Adam Mount

Expert Voices

With North Korea progress stalled, new course could still reduce threat

Mike Pompe and Kim Yong Chol walk into meeting room
Secretary of State Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, at their meeting in Pyongyang on July 7, 2018. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said on Twitter Monday he has "confidence that Kim Jong-un will honor the contract we signed" for the "denuclearization of North Korea." But in fact, Pyongyang has offered only a series of gradual, reciprocal steps unlikely to lead to full disarmament.

The details: After the Trump–Kim summit in Singapore and three Pyongyang visits by Secretary of State Pompeo, there is still little momentum to dismantle the nuclear program. North Korea has not agreed to stop nuclear and missile developments; open satellite imagery shows it is expanding its capacity to produce plutonium and uranium and to deploy a larger missile force; and the missile test site it offered to dismantle stands intact.

Expert Voices

To succeed with North Korea, U.S. must stand with the South

Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump shake hands at White House
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump in the Oval Office on May 22, 2018. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has been remarkably successful in using its negotiations to divide U.S. alliances in Northeast Asia, raising the stakes for South Korean President Moon Jae-in's White House visit today.

The backdrop: After a vibrant North-South summit at Panmunjom in April, Pyongyang has pivoted to shovel abuse onto its neighbor. The North canceled a promised meeting, assailed South Korea’s participation in military exercises, refused to invite South Korean reporters to the closure of its nuclear test site and demanded repatriation of North Koreans. Kim Jong-un is hoping Moon and Trump will blame each other for his bad behavior.

Expert Voices

The traps Kim can spring on Trump

Kim Jong-un and military leaders at parade
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a military parade. Photo: AFP / KCNA via KNS

Talks with North Korea present a long list possible pitfalls for the U.S. Since Kim Jong-un's offer, President Trump has exacerbated the risks by accepting the invitation outright, issuing overconfident statements and replacing the cautious Rex Tillerson with the pliant Mike Pompeo as secretary of state.

Why it matters: The State Department exists to ensure that the president arrives at summits like this with a strong hand, by nailing down favorable terms and negotiation strategy. Ignoring this expertise will see Trump striding blithely toward potential traps.