Analysis

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration must use the opportunity presented by the president’s decision to scrap his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to think through its strategy on North Korea, according to the Atlantic Council’s Robert A. Manning.

“There are technical issues that we ought to explore so we know what we’re talking about when we say we want the North Koreans to take steps quickly to show that they are serious about dismantling their WMD. And if they do that, we should be prepared to do X, Y, Z,” said Manning.
US President Donald J. Trump on May 24 abruptly called off a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The highly anticipated summit—one frequently touted by Trump himself—was to be held in Singapore.

“I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim. “Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”
Several years ago, Henry Kissinger famously stated that Iran must decide if it wants to be a country or a cause. On May 21, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo re-articulated this question, offering Iran a sharp choice: to be welcomed back into the community of nations if it abandons its destabilizing security policies or be subjected to an unrelenting US-led pressure campaign if not.
Southeast Asia does not often get the attention it warrants in Washington, but a cluster of events this month deserve reflection and celebration for showing that democracy in Southeast Asia is still a force to be reckoned with.  

Namely, two elections in May bucked a growing authoritarian trend in Asia with strong electoral processes resulting in new governments to reinvigorate their countries.
North Korea has threatened to cancel the highly anticipated summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in light of what it called “provocative military disturbances with South Korea,” North Korea’s state news agency reported early on May 16 local time. The Trump-Kim summit is set to be held in Singapore on June 12.

In a surprise move, North Korea also suspended talks with South Korea scheduled for May 16 in protest over the latter’s military exercises with the United States.
Early in the morning on April 9, missiles streaked through the Syrian sky toward the Tiyas (T-4) air base in Homs province, northeast of Damascus. Besides Syrian forces, the base hosts Russians and Iranians, members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force. Several Iranians were killed in the strikes.

Syria, Russia, and Iran blamed Israel for the attack on T-4.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied that it carried out the strikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30 provided a twenty-minute PowerPoint presentation of secret Iranian nuclear documents, acquired by Israeli intelligence. The information revealed will be unlikely to change many minds about the wisdom of the nuclear deal with Iran, but it is significant. It shows that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was concluded under false pretenses and that Iran may currently be in violation of the accord.
The Trump administration rolled out a series of national security and defense policy reviews in late 2017 and early 2018, but one important document has yet to be published: the Missile Defense Review (MDR). Insiders predict the Missile Defense Review (MDR) could be published as early as next month, so what can we expect?

It is likely that the MDR will call for a robust US missile defense system that looks to substantially increase US capabilities. As US President Donald J. Trump stated on August 23, 2017: “We are committed to expanding and improving a state of the art missile defense system to shoot down missiles in flight. And we are getting better and better at it. It’s actually incredible what’s taking place.”
The big question following the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 is what denuclearization means in the context of the summit declaration, according to the Atlantic Council’s Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow.

“In the past, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as distinct from denuclearization of North Korea, has meant the potential withdrawal of the US nuclear umbrella all the way up to the withdrawal of the entire US military presence in South Korea, given that the US is a nuclear power,” said Vershbow, who served as the United States’ ambassador to South Korea from 2005 to 2008.

Kim and Moon pledged in their meeting in the truce village of Panjumom along the border between the two Koreas to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work to formally end the Korean War this year.
The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on April 27 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work to formally end the Korean War this year.

Making history, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walked across into South Korea where he was greeted by a beaming South Korean President Moon Jae-in. This was the first time that a North Korea leader has set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Kim then asked Moon to step back with him into North Korea; Moon obliged, eliciting applause from onlookers.

“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement signed by Kim and Moon after their meeting at the so-called truce village, Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas.

“South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.


    

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