Commenting on the North Korea-US summit in Singapore on Tuesday, Ms. Anwita Basu, Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), said: “The statement is quite vaguely worded as was expected but has the right phrases such as ‘commitment to complete denuclearization’ and ‘security guarantees’ and ‘stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula’”.
“Notably, there is no mention of sanctions being eased or indeed any indications on timelines around when the process of denuclearization will begin and so on. It basically tells us that the conversation reiterated pre-summit discussions between Secretary Pompeo and North Korean diplomats. It also means that neither of the leaders went off key from the rehearsed messages and that they are both keen to keep up the momentum of easing tensions in the peninsula.”
“The fact that there isn't any mention of a ‘verifiable and irreversible denuclearization’ arguably suggests that they are still not on the same page as far as concretely defining this concept. The EIU is still of the opinion that behind closed doors the North Koreans have not agreed to dismantle their nukes but have instead agreed to slowdown the process in exchange for ongoing talks.”
“This is a huge win for the DPRK. In fact, it could be argued, that this is what the North Koreans have been working towards for so long: being legitimized as a state, despite its isolation. The edited version of the footage of this meeting will play on a loop for many months and even years on North Korea's state television,” Ms. Anwita Basu said.
Following on Ms. Anwita's comments, The Online Citizen asks if North Korea has more to gain than just having a lopsided agreement and what will it be for it moving forward.
TOC: Does the big win for NK also includes the positive international media exposure garnered through the coverage of the summit over the past few days?
Certainly. Naturally a lot of what North Koreans will see will be curated to suite the regime's propaganda. Curiously, KCNA, the North Korean state run news provider, has talked about a change in relations with the US. This suggests that gradually, Kim Jong-un is molding a new frame of reference for the regime.
TOC: Given the acceptance of North Korea by US and international exposure through the summit, would more countries see the need in making efforts to conduct diplomatic outreach to the once-reclusive authoritarian country known for its human rights transgression?
Arguably not. Despite being isolated, North Korea was not completely cut off from the diplomatic circuit. The country has fostered bilateral relations with many countries. Several African and Latin American nations consider North Korea and ally. This is not a situation like Taiwan, which is not given sovereign status. The DPRK's sovereignty has not been in question.
TOC: After mending of ties with South Korea and a face-to-face meeting with America's president, what is the next possible move by NK to improve its international standing?
The EIU thinks the focus for Kim Jong-un will now be on the domestic front. He has to work on delivering the purpose of all this. Some of that will include, leveraging the fact that he has managed to re-engage with China and South Korea, that the borders are opening and that money is gradually come back into the economy. It will also be interesting to see what he proposes to do around the nuclear program; this has by now become a major economic lifeline for workers in North Korea. Kim Jong-un will need to manage the dismantling of defunct plants and outwardly show that he is committed towards some form of denuclearization.