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Mr Trump has met with North Korea’s Supreme Leader on a total of three occasions, with the broad aim of securing a landmark deal which would see Kim agree to give up his weapons. The first such summit secured a vague commitment – but sceptics pointed out there was no time frame included, nor any way of independently verifying North Korea’s claims.
Since then, two more summits have failed to progress matters, and one, in Hanoi, is widely believed to have been perceived as a total failure by both sides, with Washington irked by North Korea’s refusal to countenance disarmament, and Pyongyang indignant at the ongoing refusal to lift economic sanctions.
Ruth-Ann Monti, whose book, North Korea in 100 Facts, was published last year, suggested the situation was unlikely to change even if Democratic challenger Joe Biden managed to defeat Mr Trump in November – and suggested sanctions were having little tangible effect either.
She explained: “Even if sanctions remain in place, they rarely hurt those in power.
I don’t think there is much the US can do regarding N Korean missiles and nuclear capability
Ruth Ann Monti
“Biden wasn’t involved in foreign relations as a Senator and as Vice President, he was consulted but not a foreign policy leader.
“I don’t see him doing anything like trading sanctions relief for disarmament and I don’t think Kim would really agree to in any meaningful sense.
“I don’t think there is much the US can do regarding N Korean missiles and nuclear capability.
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“It’s certainly a point of pride for Kim. Maybe China can influence NoKo to cut back tests and all that, but Trump is destroying this relationship, too.”
Looking back to the Singapore summit, which marked the first ever meeting between the leaders of the US and North Korea, she added: “It’s worth noting that North Korea made some minor concessions after the first meeting by returning the remains of US soldiers that had been requested for decades.
“In the past, animal bones were returned but forensics say the bones returned this time were consistent with a US military diet during the era.
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“This was a big deal in the US, possibly bigger in terms of emotional impact that disarmament. Kim also took apart a nuclear facility but we didn’t know until later that it was obsolete anyway.
“The US in return delayed scheduled exercises with South Korea, high on Kim’s list, but Trump’s reasoning was that it costs the US a lot of money (false, South Korea offsets a lot of US troop expenses there).”
With respect to the apparent failure to make any progress since, she said: “As far as I know, the exercises have restarted although Trump is pushing to reduce a US troop presence around the world which I doubt will happen.
“There are a couple of Senators who are explicitly pushing legislation to prevent Trump from reducing troops in SoKo.
“I don’t recall any discussion of lifting sanctions against NoKo, ever.
“I do know that China has been complicit in sneaking materials into NoKo, both private market consumer goods and industrial materials.
“They do just enough to avoid censure in the UN, and it’s helpful that they are permanent members of the Security Council.”
Mrs Monti also said there was a widespread belief that the US was unlikely to invade North Korea which was likely to be colouring Kim’s thinking.
She said: “By now I think it’s understood that our military won’t follow any Trump order for aggressive action.
“I think this removes a major reason Kim would have to use the missiles in an actual attack (as opposed to a test, which they will continue to do).”
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