DEVLIN: No-Ko Summit is Nothing New


Saturday, June 16, 2018

On Wednesday in Singapore, President Trump met with Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator currently presiding over a gulag state.

The negotiations resulted in a 400-word document outlining a detente in US-North Korean relations, which focused on four main points:

  • The United States and the DPRK commit to establishing new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.


  • The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.


  • Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

  • The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.


Don’t get me wrong, this is an achievement in and of itself, and the summit could result in a more comprehensive plan. However, the North Koreans have broken more promises than they’ve made to the United States. In fact, they’ve promised every concession Trump got out of Un before. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a gander at three decades of US-DPRK relations.

President Clinton and Bush II engaged in nonproliferation negotiations with North Korea during Kim Jong-Il’s reign. After the IAEA attempted to gain more information about North Korea’s nuclear program in 1993, the North Koreans started to withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) less than a year after it came into effect.

Clinton was quick to negotiate with the North, and in June of 1993, the first bilateral US-NK agreement was signed. Along with a commitment to delay North Korea’s departure from the NPT, it promised “Peace and security in a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula… Support for the peaceful reunification of Korea,” and “assurances against the use of force.” Sound familiar?

Eventually, the Clinton-Il negotiations lead to the Agreed Framework of 1994. The US actually gave North Korea light-water reactors for electricity as it was encouraging North Korea to freeze its nuclear development, which is just as insane as it sounds. The Agreed Framework also promised a “full normalization of political and economic relations” with the ultimate goal of “peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.”

Fast forward to 2002. The US left the Agreed Framework because North Korea used liquidity freed up by Clinton’s deal to build up their nuclear capabilities behind the scenes. In 2003, China opened the doors for negotiations with North Korea and invited the US, South Korea, Japan, and Russia to join them. The Six-Party talks can be summarized in one sentence: “The D.P.R.K. committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.”

The Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula is symbolically important because it was the first time a North Korean leader has been on southern soil since 1953. Since then, negotiations have ramped up between the two states that have been at war for more than half a century. The document itself isn’t anything special. It again reiterates “the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

As for returning POW/MIA remains, that is undoubtedly a positive, as long as the United States stops paying the North Koreans to do so.

For now, let’s pump the brakes on all the Nobel Peace Prize talk. This document is just the latest footprint in this long paper trail, but it’s certainly a step toward accountability throughout these negotiations. Trump could have laid the groundwork toward this goal by demanding a liaisons office or IAEA certification of their nuclear freeze, among other demands, but instead halted all US military movement in South Korea and said he’ll “absolutely” invite Un to the White House. If the next round of talks can provide a mechanism to hold Un accountable, maybe it proves Trump does know the art of the deal.

Bradley Devlin is a student at the University of California Berkeley studying Political Economics and serves as the President of the Berkeley College Republicans.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

Share This

About Bradley Devlin

University of California, Berkeley

Bradley Devlin is a student at the University of California Berkeley studying Political Economics and serves as the President of the Berkeley College Republicans.

Looking to Submit an Article?

We always are happy to receive submissions from new and returning authors. If you're a conservative student with a story to tell, let us know!

Join the Team

Want to Read More?

From college experiences to political theory to sports and more, our authors have covered a wide assortment of topics tailored for millennials and students.

Browse the Archives