President Donald Trump described the Iran nuclear accord brokered by the United States under former President Barack Obama, and a list of other nations including China, France, Germany, Great Britain and Russia, as the “worst deal ever.” But, as stated by Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, perhaps Trump should have read the Iran accord before traveling to Singapore to sign an accord with North Korea.
Blinken outlines that in the Obama agreement with Iran, called “one-sided” by Trump, Iran was required “up front to eliminate 98 percent of its uranium stockpile” and “put under seal two-thirds of its centrifuges, cap uranium enrichment at levels well below weapons-grade and remove the core of its plutonium reactor.”
Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation and former CIA analyst, stated that the Trump agreement with North Korea “did not even commit North Korea to do as much as it promised in deals negotiated in 1994 and 2005 that it later failed to live up to.” Instead, the Trump agreement stated that Kim, once again, “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The agreement did not include any immediate demands, the timeline for denuclearization, or an inspection schedule to see if North Korea was moving forward on their pledge of denuclearization. There was no language about “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” demanded by the Trump administration just months earlier when the meeting was scheduled, then canceled, then rescheduled.
What did Kim get for showing up and getting his picture taken with Trump? He received “security guarantees” and other significant concessions from the United States. Trade sanctions from China and Russia have already been softened, according to multiple media reports. Trump canceled joint military exercises with our ally, South Korea, and talked about removing American troops from South Korea.
In other words, Kim got significant concessions from Trump while Trump received “a commitment” with no plans, timeline or independent verification. There was no mention of the destruction of the dozens of nuclear weapons North Korea already has. There was no mention of the destruction of Kim’s ballistic missiles. Kim gave up nothing and received what he really wanted — to be on the world stage as an equal partner with the president of the United States. Trump, in his desperate need for attention, was eager to oblige.
Trump called Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran “disastrous” because parts of the agreement had expiration dates in 10 to 25 years when it could be updated and renegotiated. Yet, Trump’s deal with North Korea doesn’t even have a start date. And there are no interim requirements by Kim as a show of good faith. In Obama’s Iran accord, interim agreements mandated that Iran “disclose all of its programs, freeze its enrichment and reprocessing infrastructure under international monitoring and destroy some warheads and missiles in return for limited economic relief.” Obama insisted on these interim agreements to measure Iran’s seriousness before moving forward on any benefit for Iran.
The Trump agreement with North Korea requires no interim agreements for the destruction of weapons or their capacity to develop more weapons. There are no mandated disclosures, and there are no requirements for international monitoring.
Trump said three months ago that, “It would be easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory. I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes.” But it seems Trump took the simple deal and claimed victory, after all. Anyone surprised?
As stated by Blinken, the limited deal Trump signed with Kim gives the “green light to China and others to ease up on economic pressure on North Korea, reducing American leverage and adding to the diplomatic bounty Mr. Kim already has accrued in his dealings with Mr. Trump.” The meeting with the American president, says Blinken, “gives Mr. Kim the legitimacy North Korea’s leaders have long sought. Mr. Trump has backed away from exerting maximum pressure. And he seems to have acquiesced to Pyongyang’s desire to negotiate a peace treaty before it gives up its nuclear weapons — the opposite of longstanding United States policy.”
Too bad Trump didn’t first read the Iran accord before he signed an accord with North Korea. He might have then understood what a real nuclear accord includes. “I don’t need to prepare very much,” said Trump on his way to his meeting with Kim. Well, yes, if you are going to give away the store and get nothing in return, then you don’t need to prepare.