Politics

Despite 'historic' summit, 'very low odds' North Korea will denuclearize: Eurasia Group

Key Points
  • There may be a "lull" in the tensions over North Korea's nuclear program, but leader Kim Jong Un is merely playing for time, says Eurasia Group's Meredith Sumpter.
  • She puts the odds of North Korea denuclearizing during Trump's first term at 5 percent.
  • "It does nothing to change the long-term calculations of the North Korean leader about his need for a credible nuclear threat to ultimately protect his regime."
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We do not believe North Korea will denuclearize: Eurasia Group

There may be a "lull" in the tensions over North Korea's nuclear program, but leader is merely playing for time, said Meredith Sumpter, head of research strategy and operations at Eurasia Group.

In fact, the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea doesn't change her view that there are "very low odds" of North Korea denuclearizing during President Donald Trump's first term.

"We put those odds at 5 percent," she said Friday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook attend a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.
Korea Summit Press Pool | Pool | Reuters

Earlier in the day, South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Kim pledged to jointly eliminate the risk of war and work together to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Their joint statement came after the conclusion of a historic one-day bilateral summit aimed at achieving peace between the longtime adversaries for the first time in more than 60 years.

Sumpter expects to see an easing of tensions and a growth in ties between the North and the South, as well as an uptick in the probability of prolonged negotiation and diplomacy over denuclearization.

However, she added, "It does nothing to change the long-term calculations of the North Korean leader about his need for a credible nuclear threat to ultimately protect his regime."

Instead, she believes Kim is looking for a break from the financial pressure brought on by sanctions, as well as the need to buy time.

"Our sense is that Kim Jong Un has made the calculation that he likely can't make a deal with this president and expect it to last," she said, pointing to Trump's threats to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

The U.S. has been negotiating a summit between Trump and Kim, which is expected to happen in May or June.

— CNBC's Natasha Turak contributed to this report.