Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Historic Meeting in Singapore Marks a Change in Relations Between the United States and North Korea and Generates a North Korean Commitment to Work Toward Denuclearization

Extract

North Korea's Chairman, Kim Jong Un, agreed to work toward the Korean peninsula's denuclearization at a Singapore summit meeting with President Trump on June 12, 2018. The encounter marked the first time in history that the president of the United States and the leader of North Korea have met in person. It came after an intense year and a half of interactions between the two countries, including the exchange of nuclear-laced military threats, the imposition of new sanctions by the United States and the UN Security Council, and, eventually, a touch of détente. Since the meeting occurred, North Korea has taken several steps consistent with commitments it made, including returning remains said to be those of American service members, refraining from missile launches, and beginning to dismantle its testing facilities. Also since the meeting occurred, the United States has suspended its usual joint military exercises with South Korea, consistent with a statement made by Trump at the summit, while leaving in place existing sanctions against North Korea.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Historic Meeting in Singapore Marks a Change in Relations Between the United States and North Korea and Generates a North Korean Commitment to Work Toward Denuclearization
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Historic Meeting in Singapore Marks a Change in Relations Between the United States and North Korea and Generates a North Korean Commitment to Work Toward Denuclearization
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Historic Meeting in Singapore Marks a Change in Relations Between the United States and North Korea and Generates a North Korean Commitment to Work Toward Denuclearization
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All

1 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, U.S. Relations with North Korea, at https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2792.htm [https://perma.cc/3EU5-WCQJ] [hereinafter U.S. Relations with North Korea]; Sean Murphy, D., Contemporary Practice of the United States, 93 AJIL 908, 908–09 (1999).

2 See Murphy, supra note 1, at 909 (recounting the beginnings of this breakdown).

3 Crook, John R., Contemporary Practice of the United States, 99 AJIL 715, 716 (2005).

4 Id. at 717. North Korea had become a party to the NPT in 1985. International Atomic Energy Agency, Fact Sheet on DPRK Nuclear Safeguards, at https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/dprk/fact-sheet-on-dprk-nuclear-safeguards.

5 Crook, John R., Contemporary Practice of the United States, 99 AJIL 914, 915 (2005).

6 Id. at 915–16.

7 See generally Crook, John R., Contemporary Practice of the United States, 101 AJIL 216 (2007).

8 U.S. Relations with North Korea, supra note 1.

9 David E. Sanger, Choe Sang-Hun & Jane Perlez, A Big Blast in North Korea, and Big Questions on U.S. Policy, N.Y. Times (Sept. 9, 2016), at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html.

10 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Remarks at the UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on DPRK (Dec. 15, 2017), at https://translations.state.gov/2017/12/15/remarks-by-secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson-to-the-un-security-council-on-north-korea [https://perma.cc/W7H7-LLNB].

11 White House Press Release, President Donald J. Trump's Visit to the Republic of Korea (Nov. 8, 2017), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-visit-republic-korea [https://perma.cc/L4QP-R4MJ].

12 For a more in-depth account of the rising tensions between the United States and North Korea leading up to 2018, see Galbraith, Jean, Contemporary Practice of the United States, 112 AJIL 95 (2018).

13 Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Jan. 2, 2018, 4:49 PM), at https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/948355557022420992.

14 Interview by Elise Labott with Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, United States of America (Jan. 5, 2018), available at https://kr.usembassy.gov/010518-secretary-tillersons-interview-with-elise-labott-of-cnn [https://perma.cc/D4WJ-W9FX].

15 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Remarks with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at a Press Availability (Jan. 16, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/secretary/20172018tillerson/remarks/2018/01/277481.htm [https://perma.cc/7FRB-KFHQ].

16 U.S. Dep't of the Treas. Press Release, Treasury Sanctions North Korean Overseas Representatives, Shipping Companies, and Chinese Entities Supporting the Kim Regime (Jan. 24, 2018), at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0257 [https://perma.cc/2GSZ-NYK6]. These sanctions came in response to photos that were taken showing suspected illicit transfers between North Korean and foreign vessels. Carol Morello, U.S. Imposes Sanctions on North Korean Ships Suspected of Smuggling Goods, Wash. Post (Jan. 24, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-sanctions-north-korean-ships-suspected-of-smuggling-goods/2018/01/24/065cb8a2-011b-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html.

17 See, e.g., Waxman, Matthew, War, Threats of Force, and Law: Thoughts on North Korea, Lawfare (Feb. 1, 2018), at https://www.lawfareblog.com/war-threats-force-and-law-thoughts-north-korea (“Some advocates stress that the law should be sufficiently permissive and flexible to allow the United States to address militarily the North Korean menace (or cases involving other nuclear proliferators), while others stress that it should be sufficiently constraining and rigid to help prevent unnecessary and catastrophic war.”).

18 White House Press Release, Remarks by Vice President Pence and Prime Minister Abe of Japan in Joint Statements (Feb. 7, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-vice-president-pence-prime-minister-abe-japan-joint-statements [https://perma.cc/CTZ8-ACF9].

19 White House Press Release, Press Briefing by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on North Korea Sanctions (Feb. 23, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-briefing-treasury-secretary-steven-mnuchin-north-korea-sanctions/ [https://perma.cc/QKR3-WPKX].

20 Id.

21 Id.

22 Trump, Donald J., The President's News Conference with Prime Minister Malcolm B. Turnbull of Australia, at 8, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 114 (Feb. 23, 2018).

23 Choe Sang-Hun, North Korea, Seeking “Equal Footing,” Rejects Preconditions for U.S. Talks, N.Y. Times (Mar. 3, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/03/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-talks.html.

24 Rick Noack, Within 3 Months, Trump's Dealings with North Korea and Iran have Antagonized: Russia, China, Germany, France, Japan, Britain, Austria, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Slovakia, Portugal, Finland, Ireland, South Korea […], Wash. Post (May 25, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2018/05/25/within-3-months-trumps-dealings-with-north-korea-and-iran-have-antagonized-russia-china-germany-france-japan-britain-austria-italy-belgium-the-netherlands-denmark-sweden-spain-slovaki (more generally providing a detailed timeline of events leading up the summit meeting).

25 White House Press Release, Remarks by Republic of Korea National Security Advisor Chung Eui-Yong (Mar. 8, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-republic-korea-national-security-advisor-chung-eui-yong [https://perma.cc/4J3D-HH7U].

26 Id.

27 Tessa Berenson, Why Trump's Predecessors Did Not Meet with North Korea, Time (Mar. 9, 2018), at http://time.com/5192579/trump-meets-kim-jong-un-north-korea.

28 Anna Fifield, North Korea Says It Will Suspend Nuclear and Missile Tests, Shut Down Test Site, Wash. Post (Apr. 20, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korean-leader-suspends-nuclear-and-missile-tests-shuts-down-test-site/2018/04/20/71ff2eea-44e7-11e8-baaf-8b3c5a3da888_story.html.

29 Choe Sang-Hun, North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms, N.Y. Times (Apr. 27, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/world/asia/north-korea-south-kim-jong-un.html.

30 David Nakamura & John Hudson, White House Privately Skeptical of North Korea's Plans to Freeze Nuclear Testing, Wash. Post (Apr. 21, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-privately-skeptical-of-north-koreas-plans-to-freeze-nuclear-testing/2018/04/21/ab64980e-4583-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html (reporting that White House aides were suspicious that North Korea was only trying to receive economic sanction relief when requesting a meeting with the United States).

31 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Remarks to the Traveling Press (May 8, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/05/281944.htm [https://perma.cc/9LXU-QCSG] [hereinafter Pompeo's Trip to North Korea]. The date and location were set for June 12 in Singapore. Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (May 10, 2018, 7:37 AM), at https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/994587349718847489 [https://perma.cc/C2VL-2AB9].

32 Pompeo's Trip to North Korea, supra note 31 (“We're not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives.”).

33 Cheng, Jonathan & Bender, Michael, North Korea Frees Three U.S. Citizens, Wall St. J. (May 9, 2018), at https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-pyongyang-pompeo-expresses-hope-about-working-with-north-korea-1525848842.

34 For details, see Anna Fifield, North Korea Says It's Up to U.S. Whether They Meet at a Table or in a “Nuclear Showdown, Wash. Post. (May 23, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-says-its-up-to-us-whether-they-meet-at-a-table-or-in-anuclear-showdown/2018/05/23/45f97960-5ee9-11e8-8c93-8cf33c21da8d_story.html; Trump, Donald J., Letter to Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 371 (May 24); Choe Sang-Hun, North Korea Says It Will Give Trump “Time and Opportunity” to Reconsider, N.Y. Times (May 24, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/world/asia/north-korea-trump-reconsider.html; Donald J. Trump, Remarks Following a Meeting with Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Yong Chol North Korea and an Exchange with Reporters, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 392 (June 1, 2018).

35 Trump, Donald J., The President's News Conference on Sentosa Island, Singapore, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 423 (June 12, 2018) [hereinafter Trump Press Conference].

36 Id.

37 Donald J. Trump, Joint Statement by President Trump and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 422 (June 12, 2018).

38 Trump Press Conference, supra note 35, at 2.

39 Id.

40 Id. at 3. (“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”).

41 Daniel Flatley & Anthony Capaccio, Trump Suspends South Korea “War Games” in Bet Kim Can Be Trusted, Bloomberg (June 12, 2018), at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-12/trump-suspends-south-korea-war-games-in-bet-kim-can-be-trusted.

42 White House Press Release, WTAS: Support for President Donald J. Trump's Summit with North Korea (June 12, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/wtas-support-president-donald-j-trumps-summit-north-korea [https://perma.cc/P7RB-S2K6].

43 Id.

44 Id.

45 Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (June 13, 2018, 2:56 AM), at https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1006837823469735936. Congress has been more hesitant in accepting that there is no longer a North Korean nuclear threat. It recently passed, and Trump signed into law, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019. H.R. 5515, 115th Cong. (2018) (listed as Pub. L. No. 115–232). Regarding North Korea, the act restricts reductions of active-duty U.S. service members below 22,000 in South Korea, subject to a waiver through certification by the secretary of defense that certain conditions have been met, and mandates executive branch reporting to Congress regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Pub. L. 115–232 at §§ 1264, 1265, _ Stat. _ (2018). In his signing statement, Trump indicated his view that these provisions might unconstitutionally intrude on exclusive presidential powers under certain circumstances. Donald J. Trump, Statement on Signing the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 533 (Aug. 13) (interpreting the certification requirement for troop reduction to “encompass only actions for which such advance certification or notification is feasible and consistent” with the president's commander-in-chief powers and stating that the reporting requirement may be limited by various presidential privileges with respect to the disclosure of information).

46 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to Traveling Press (July 7, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/07/283878.htm [https://perma.cc/7AHE-F34J].

47 See, e.g., Rick Gladstone & Satoshi Sugiyama, Pompeo, at U.N., Says North Korean Leader Must Keep Vow to Denuclearize, N.Y. Times (July 20, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/world/asia/pompeo-haley-north-korea.html. Trump has similarly stated that “[t]he sanctions will come off when [they] are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor.” Trump Press Conference, supra note 35.

48 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Secretary Pompeo's Meeting with Vietnamese Leaders (July 9, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/07/283897.htm [https://perma.cc/322C-L7PS]. Pompeo delivered similar messages to officials representing other countries that are part of the ASEAN Regional Forum. See U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Previewing Secretary Pompeo's Upcoming Trip to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta (July 31, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/07/284840.htm [https://perma.cc/2Q3W-6L4E]; U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, Press Availability with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne (July 24, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/07/284471.htm [https://perma.cc/9DS4-NRZE].

50 Adam Taylor, North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Test Site, Satellite Imagery Suggests, Wash. Post (July 23, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/07/23/north-korea-begins-dismantling-key-test-site-satellite-imagery-suggests.

51 White House Press Release, Statement from the Press Secretary on the Repatriation of Remains from North Korea (July 26, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-repatriation-remains-north-korea [https://perma.cc/6WEZ-4BMM]; White House Press Release, In Photos: 65 Years Later, Fallen American Soldiers of the Korean War Come Home (Aug. 2, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/photos-65-years-later-fallen-american-soldiers-korean-war-come-home [https://perma.cc/L58E-PADA]. Although North Korea and the Trump administration announced that the remains of fallen American service members were returned, forensic labs in Hawaii are studying the remains to ensure they are in fact fallen American soldiers. See Interview by Tara Copp with Jim Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Military Times (July 27, 2018), at https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/07/27/how-will-the-us-know-the-war-remains-north-korea-sent-are-real-qa-with-mattis. As of mid-September 2018, two identifications of American soldiers have been made. First Remains Identified from Remains Returned by North Korea, BBC News (Sept. 21, 2018).

52 White House Press Release, Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley (July 31, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-gaggle-deputy-press-secretary-hogan-gidley-073118 [https://perma.cc/YPR6-837W].

53 Choe Sang-Hun, U.S. Isn't Holding Up Its End of Nuclear Deal, North Korean Envoy Charges, N.Y. Times (Aug. 4, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/04/world/asia/north-korea-us-nuclear-deal.html.

54 Id. (noting that after Pompeo's July visit, North Korea complained of a “‘unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization’” by the United States).

55 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, An Update on American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy (July 25, 2018), at https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/07/284487.htm [https://perma.cc/2Q2Q-DB43].

56 For a collective list of sanctions, see U.S. Dep't of the Treas., North Korea Sanctions, at https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/nkorea.aspx [https://perma.cc/W8BL-YRGB].

57 Donald J. Trump, Remarks Prior to a Dinner with Business Leaders and an Exchange with Reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey, at 11, 2018 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. No. 527 (Aug. 7, 2018).

58 David E. Sanger & William J. Broad, Once “No Longer a Nuclear Threat,” North Korea Now in Standoff with U.S., N.Y. Times (Aug. 10, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/us/politics/north-korea-denuclearize-peace-treaty.html.

59 Trump Press Conference, supra note 35, at 6.

60 See Mark Landler & Gardiner Harris, Trump Asks Pompeo to Cancel North Korea Trip, Pointing to Stalled Diplomacy, N.Y. Times (Aug. 24, 2018), at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/us/politics/pompeo-north-korea-trip.html.

61 Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Aug. 29, 2018, 2:23 PM), at https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1034914371099676674; see also Paul Sonne, Trump Says U.S. Shouldn't Be Spending Money on “War Games” with South Korea, Wash. Post (Aug. 29, 2018), at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagon-no-decisions-made-about-suspending-future-exercises-with-south-korea/2018/08/29/08cf70da-abab-11e8-8f4b-aee063e14538_story.html?utm_term=.957e4038b7a1 (describing how these tweets came after the secretary of defense had stated that “there are ongoing exercises all the tie on the peninsula” and that “no decisions have been made about suspending any future exercises”).

62 White House Press Release, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and CEA Chairman Kevin Hassett (Sept. 10, 2018), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-briefing-press-secretary-sarah-sanders-cea-chairman-kevin-hassett-091018/ [https://perma.cc/WC8X-QE9Q].

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0002-9300
  • EISSN: 2161-7953
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed