Thursday, June 21, 2018

All the Times North Korea Promised to Denuclearize

WIRED JUNE 12 2018

The nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has concluded, with each securing something they value. The US will suspend the joint military exercises with South Korea that rattle the Hermit Kingdom. And North Korea has promised to denuclearize. At some point. Probably. But if the past is any sort of prologue, you shouldn't hold your breath.

On the face of it, the agreement signed by Trump and Kim seems promising. “President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement read.

But this is not the first time North Korea has promised to abandon its nuclear efforts. (In truth, even this was simply a reaffirmation of a denuclearization pledge Kim had already made in April.) Nor is it the second time, or the third. The offer has resurfaced over the past several decades with surprising regularity. And it has never panned out so far.

“There’s definitely a pattern where the North Koreans agree to denuclearize in theory, but then there’s not really a substantive process that they agree to, to actually hammer it out,” says James McKeon, a policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cheaper alternative to KL-S’pore High-Speed Rail feasible, but may be shortsighted: Experts

By Kenneth Cheng

19 June, 2018


SINGAPORE — Even if the authorities upgrade Malaysia’s Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway infrastructure as a cheaper alternative to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project, it may still take time and need substantial work, experts said.

And the move may turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish further down the road, with Singapore and Malaysia left behind while other countries pursue a regional high-speed rail network.

Their comments came after Malaysian news agency The Star reported on Monday (June 18) that the option of rejuvenating the KTM was brought to the attention of Malaysia’s Council of Eminent Persons — an advisory body recently formed by Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ripples of the Singapore Summit

And the Trump-Kim Summit will forever be known as "The Singapore Summit". 

The meeting is historic, even if the significance of the agreement forged is still pending the judgement of history.

Here are two news articles on the ripples from the Summit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trump and Kim Have Just Walked Us Back From the Brink of War


By Victor Cha

Mr. Cha is a former National Security Council director for Asia.

June 12, 2018

President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea meet for the first time on Sentosa Island, Singapore.  CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

There is a phrase in Korean: “Begun is half-done.” It means when tackling a difficult task, half of the battle is getting started.

Despite the many warts in President Trump’s unconventional diplomacy toward North Korea, we have to give him credit. Only five months ago, based on my conversations with this administration, I thought we were headed down an inexorable path toward a devastating war.

Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore


By Nicholas Kristof

New York Times
Opinion Columnist
June 12, 2018

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump and Kim can learn a lot from Singapore

By Tyler Cowen

12 June, 2018


SINGAPORE — United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are spending such a short amount of time in Singapore this week. Maybe they should stick around longer to see what makes its economy tick.

Singapore is an especially wealthy nation, with a per capita income of about US$90,000 (S$120,000), well above that of the US But how is this prosperity maintained, and why has Singapore commanded so much admiration from liberals and conservatives alike?

Singapore has many features shared by other wealthy countries, such as a high capital stock, a predictable legal environment and a well-educated workforce, but what are some of the less common factors behind its success?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Before Kim meets Trump, China gets jittery about North Korea’s intentions

11 June, 2018


BEIJING — In the sudden rush of diplomacy involving North Korea, China has appeared to have the upper hand, hosting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un twice before his long-anticipated Singapore summit meeting with US President Donald Trump even begins.

Yet as Mr Kim prepares to finally meet Mr Trump in Singapore on Tuesday (June 12), some analysts say Beijing appears to be getting a sudden case of the jitters.

They say the Chinese leaders, who are unused to being on the outside looking in, are growing anxious about whether they can keep their Cold War-era ally firmly in its current orbit around China. Leaders in Beijing are worried, experts say, that Kim might try to counterbalance China's influence by embracing the United States, North Korea's longtime enemy.