U.S. President Donald Trump is going to have to offer North Korea's Kim Jong Un more concessions at their upcoming summit if he wants the reclusive state to make any real progress on denuclearization, political strategists say.
The two leaders are due to meet in Vietnam at the end of February in what will be their second meeting in under a year. Since their first face-to-face sit-down last June in Singapore, fears of a full-blown crisis on the Korean Peninsula have eased as Pyongyang makes goodwill gestures such as closing its Tongchang-ri and Punggye-ri missile sites — areas that aren't critical to the current nuclear program — as well as returning U.S. hostages.
While Trump takes credit for averting war with Pyongyang, the country has yet to take concrete steps toward eliminating its weapons arsenal. In fact, numerous reports indicate that Kim's administration continues to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile program through ongoing production of rockets, warheads and fissile material.
Washington wants the North to provide full details of its weapons and missile program, including the size and locations of storage sites, as well as international access, Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, said in a speech last week. Kim, however, has made clear that he will only negotiate on a phased framework that requires Washington to offer concessions in sequence with and in proportion to whatever Pyongyang does.