I would love to give you a deep dive into all the possible meanings of last night’s statement from the official news organization of the North Korean government. But I don’t think I have time. Let me see how the morning goes.
There is some great commentary on Twitter. The short version is that North Korean statements are hard to figure out, and some aspects of this statement have been made before and then ignored by the North Korean leadership. North Korea is playing a complex game in courting South Korea and trying to split them from the US, setting themselves up to look like the good guys when John Bolton starts the war drums, and generally flummoxing Donald Trump before the summit. Kim is a sharp player.
Here is the meat of the statement:
KCNA has finally pushed out the official English version of its statement. Here are the bits everyone is excited about: pic.twitter.com/O2xSdc8NJ6
— Martyn Williams (@martyn_williams) April 20, 2018
And here are some of the people whose accounts you might want to look into for more (including Martyn Williams, above):
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) April 21, 2018
Does anyone, on either side of the political aisle, actually think that the DPRK would give up its nuclear capability without receiving in exchange commitments that the US would not be willing to give?
If the answer is "no" — what happens when this (inevitably) becomes clear?
— Alex Wellerstein (@wellerstein) April 21, 2018
Wellerstein’s tweet is the start of a very thoughtful thread.
Some folks I don’t always agree with, but this is a good thread:
Analysis thread by David Albright on today's announcement by North Korea that it would "suspend nuclear and missile tests effective immediately and abolish a nuclear test site." 1/ https://t.co/bw3BIHBUtv
— Inst for Science (@TheGoodISIS) April 21, 2018
Recall North Korea agreed to a testing freeze & letting in inspectors as recently as the 2012 Leap Day deal…only to restart weeks later. Listen as @WonkVJ @newsjean @nktpnd lay out what went down https://t.co/o9wPLrqYF7
— Elise Hu (@elisewho) April 21, 2018
— Rachel Becker (@RA_Becks) April 21, 2018
I also did a thread last night. I’ll put it in narrative form:
Kim Jong Un has taken Donald Trump’s measure. Give Trump something that looks to him like a success. This is not hard, because Trump has no concept of what is required for a nuclear agreement. Trump will believe that his bluster and manliness, VP Pence’s stare of resolve, have done their job: Kim is giving up.
Kim’s concessions are minimal and could be reversed at any time. North Korea has offered the equivalent and walked away in the past. Trump doesn’t know that. So Trump will be overconfident in preparing for the summit. He will be less prepared on details and more prepared to make concessions.
Trump may come back with something that superficially looks attractive. Voters who aren’t following the details will be impressed. Kim then reneges, and Trump blames someone else, maybe Obama. Trump is re-elected in 2020.
It’s good that Trump is using diplomacy rather than the military. But I doubt that he has the smarts or the staff to deal with a summit.
Update: This is a good summary, although I think it starts out too optimistically.