By Phillip Orchard
Predictably, last week’s Singapore summit was long on pomp and short on substance. The summit was rushed, leaving insufficient time to hammer out anything more than a symbolic statement in which Pyongyang committed to even less than it did in talks with the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations in 1993, 1994 and 2005. More important, neither North Korea nor the U.S. was prepared to make any meaningful concessions on their red lines anyway. It’s doubtful that the U.S. will have the leverage to force the North to agree to a formal deal on complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament anytime soon.
However, the outlines of a tacit deal on the size and shape of the North’s nuclear and missile arsenals are beginning to take shape. In fact, the bulk of such an arrangement might already be in place. And it could have considerably more staying power than the meatier deals with North Korea that were repeatedly inked and scrapped in the past.