Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) as they sit down for their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
Regardless of result, Tuesday’s meeting is considered a diplomatic breakthrough given that history. Still, many experts have said the summit is a strategic mistake on Washington’s part since it legitimatizes Kim’s regime and places him as an equal to Trump.
Experts predict little in terms of concrete results from the summit. In the past, Pyongyang has said it may denuclearize only if certain conditions are fulfilled. Those include terminating America’s military presence in South Korea as well as ending the U.S. regional nuclear umbrella, a security arrangement in which Washington promises in-kind retaliation on behalf of close allies if they are attacked with nuclear weapons.
Washington has said its troops in South Korea would not be up for discussion during the Tuesday summit. Such a withdrawal could have major implications for Asia, but so too could a failure to reach any deal between the two parties.
Some experts have said, however, that there are also risks that could arise from a tentative deal.
“The greatest risk is if we get a political agreement at this summit and the optics look nice but then it falls apart on the details — maybe not in six months, maybe not in one year but in five years,” Michael Kovrig, senior advisor at the International Crisis Group, told CNBC on Monday.
“That’s why we need a clear, step-by-step process that goes action-for-action [and] creates a security environment where the North Koreans are actually willing to take steps and the United States is in a position to monitor and verify those steps.”
Even if the North Koreans come out of the summit saying they are committed to denuclearization, that hardly guarantees anything. The regime has made commitments before, and monitoring compliance to an agreement would likely present a challenge.