U.S. President Donald Trump said that the United States would have to “wait and see” about North Korea’s threats to call off the summit. “We have not been notified,” he replied to a question on whether the summit would proceed on schedule. With regard to the U.S. approach to North Korea as the Libya model, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said, “There is not a cookie-cutter approach on how this works. This is the President Trump model. He's going to run this the way he sees fit.” If the summit is called off, however, she warned that the United States would press “maximum pressure” on North Korea.
It appears that the United States is taking a cautious approach to North Korea’s threats. It has said that the approach does not have to be the same as the Libya model, which North Korea opposes to, leaving room for negotiation. However, Washington has hinted that if the summit is called off, it would entail definite punitive measures, including military options. The United States appears to take a carrot and stick approach, maintaining gentle and calm on the front but not without pressure.
The Trump model, as referred to by the White House, is predicted to be combination of various denuclearization approaches as proposed by the Trump administration so far. It aims to ensure a speedy implementation, encouraging North Korea to give up nuclear weapons and forbid them to be carried outside of the country and accept strengthened nuclear inspections to achieve a complete, verifiable and irrevocable denuclearization. The Iranian model, which Trump has dismissed as the “worst agreement,” would not be considered. John Bolton, U.S. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, has also stressed the goals of CVID, saying, “If North Korea does not decide to give up nuclear weapons; the Singapore meeting could be very short.”
North Korea’s hard line stance suggests that the under-the-table negotiations between the United States and North Korea have just begun. A diplomatic negotiation with the national security at stake is naturally a struggle. Though the United States and North Korea have built a consensus on the common goals of denuclearization and regime guarantee, both have different expectations on how the approaches should be made. The United States demands the conditions for denuclearization to which North Korea refuses.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has agreed to a “complete denuclearization” at the Panmunjom statement on April 27 and the need for a “gradual and simultaneous approach” in his visit to China, but has not laid out a specific plan. It is time for North Korea to state a clear plan on how and when the complete denuclearization will be achieved. North Korea is attempting to hide behind China’s back, waiting for the United States to yield, but such tactics are no longer effective. Washington knows better than any country how Pyongyang has behaved in the past.