The above excerpt was originally published in The National Interest.
Just when the sailing seemed smooth as American president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speed toward their June 12 summit in Singapore, the seas are starting to get rough. On May 16, North Korea issued two statements that put the upcoming meeting on shaky ground. One stated, “the U.S. will have to think twice about the fate of the DPRK-U.S. summit,” because of the U.S.-South Korea Max Thunder military drills, which are taking place until May 25 and are seen as a violation of the Panmunjom Declaration from the inter-Korea summit. The other attacked National Security Advisor John Bolton and his call for a Libya-model of denuclearization, saying that if the U.S. is trying to force North Korea’s hand in “unilateral” denuclearization, the country, “will…reconsider our proceeding to the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit.” While this might be a jarring tonal shift from the image Kim has been conveying for the past five months, diplomacy isn’t doomed yet. Here are a few takeaways from the statements.