As It Happens

Trump-Kim summit was 'aspirational' with no new promises, says former CIA analyst

"If our goal truly is complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program ... this statement does not get us near there," says Sue Mi Terry.

'We were able to get a stronger wording out of North Korea in 2005,' says Sue Mi Terry

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci/ Associated Press )

Kim Jong-un's promise to work toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is "vague" and won't lead to any real change, says former CIA analyst Sue Mi Terry. 

On Tuesday morning, the North Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump shook hands in Singapore at a historic nuclear summit. Trump pledged "security guarantees" to the North and Kim recommitted to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The historic summit comes after months of tension between the two leaders, and just weeks after Trump cancelled the summit altogether. 

Terry, a former senior analyst on Korean issues at the CIA and current fellow at the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about the summit. Here is part of that conversation. 

Was this any more than a good photo-op for North Korea and for Donald Trump?

I think it was more than a photo-op for Kim Jong-un.

He got a lot of things that he wanted, which was to gain an international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons power, get prestige, respect, to appear as an equal to the United States. And he got all that.

And what did he give? He gave nothing except a statement that says he will work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump and Kim stop to talk with the media as they walk from their lunch at the Capella resort. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

A Fox News headline says: "North Korea Agrees To Complete Denuclearization After Summit." That's the headline Mr. Trump would like to see in the United States. So did Mr. Trump get what he wants?

What Mr. Trump got was a statement that North Korea has made before.

But they have not said in this statement that they will unilaterally dismantle their nuclear weapons program.

.Of course Mr. Trump is going to spin it as some sort of success. But it's not successful.

Even if it's just a reiteration, what does Mr. Kim mean when he says, "We will work toward denuclearization"? 

I think what he means is he's willing to continue this negotiation process.

What the North Koreans meant in the past is, sure they're willing to think about giving up their nuclear weapons program.

Sue Mi Terry says she doesn't think Kim has any intention to get rid of the country's nuclear weapons. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters )

It's that we would like to have, the conditions in which we could give up denuclearization, but we're not there yet.​

Exactly. It was a very aspirational statement.

I have a lot of aspirations too. It doesn't mean I'm going to get there.

And even so, we were able to get a stronger wording out of North Korea in 2005 in other agreements.

I was actually surprised that Kim Jong-un was so stingy

If he wanted to sort of show that North Korea's turning a new page, that he's a different leader than his father and grandfather, he could have given more than this.

Trump holds up the document that he and Kim just signed in Singapore. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

If that's all this summit was able to do, to create the relationship between President Trump and Mr. Kim in order to lay the groundwork for Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo to continue even for years — wasn't that worth it, then?     

It's certainly better than where we were just several months ago. Certainly better than November, December of last year when we were talking about preventive strike and bloody nose options.

But if our goal truly is complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program, all I'm saying is that this statement does not get us near there.   

And do you think it's something that Mr. Kim wants? 


What he wants is to have international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.

Does it disturb you that there was ... so little said about Mr. Kim's record for his brutality, his human rights abuses, the things that he has done in North Korea. None of that seems to have been part of this discussion. Did you think it should have been?   

Of course I think it should have been. If we're looking to normalize relations with North Korea at one point we must bring up human rights situations.

North Korea is a human rights violator. Worst kind in the world. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry came out with a 400-page report and named Kim Jong-un ... saying he's a man who commits crimes against humanity.

To not address this issue at all, I think it's absolutely wrong.

Written by Sarah Jackson with files from Associated Press. Interview produced by Chris Harbord. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.


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