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Big League National Security

Was the Trump-Kim Jong Un Peace Summit Derailed by John Bolton?

Bolton may have sought to require the North Koreans to dismantle existing chemical and biological weapons systems.

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President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly on Wednesday, without a groundbreaking agreement to denuclearize on behalf of North Korea that many peace advocates had been hoping for.

It appears that White House National Security Advisor John Bolton may be responsible in part for the peace summit concluding without a lasting agreement being signed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un. Sources describe Bolton as orchestrating a shifting of the goalposts, in which North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons became part of the discussion, a development that caught the representatives of the North Korean regime off guard.

Certainly, it’s far from ideal for a rogue and isolated regime such as North Korea to possess chemical and biological weapons.

But was it really necessary to ice a potentially unprecedented peace agreement between the dictatorship and the United States- potentially putting an end to North Korea’s destabilizing nuclear weapons program- over chemical weapons?

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The North Koreans had largely expected the summit negotiations to involve a deal in which sanctions would be lifted in exchange for the nation dismantling its primary nuclear research facility at Yongbyon. Sources differ on whether a potential deal would remove all sanctions placed upon the nation, or if a denuclearization commitment would see a portion of sanctions gradually removed with the promise of more if the North Koreans stood by their commitments.

Leading neoconservatives and ultra-hawks celebrated the failure of the Hanoi summit to create a lasting and significant agreement, blissfully unaware that the summit’s conclusion leaves relations between North Korea, the United States, and South Korea essentially unchanged.

However, the North Koreans have shown somewhat of a willingness to respond to tough love from the Trump administration, and it’s possible that they will be willing to dismantle the chemical weapons programs brought up by Bolton in exchange for another crack at having sanctions lifted from the country’s long-isolated economy.

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