Is Trump being Rational by mentioning “Libya model” for North Korea ahead of Summit?

Ever since President Trump opened dialogues with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, officials from both the countries are struggling to salvage the summit meeting, which is scheduled on June 12 in Singapore. However, the current scenario hints that the historic summit between the two countries could land in a serious jeopardy.

Trump’s administration has been demanding for a “Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Dismantlement” (CVID) of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, with some officials proclaiming the “Libya model” of forced denuclearization. In the backdrop, the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in 2003, agreed to retrench his nuclear program, seeking for Tripoli’s reentry in the international community. Later in 2011, Gadhafi was publically assassinated by rebels in a US-backed military stroke.

Libya’s current situation testifies why the Trump and his administration shouldn’t talk about the “Libya model” in prospective talks with the latter. It is a controversial comparison for several reasons. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is quite sophisticated than Libya’s, and denuclearization, including verification, would take years. Libya took only a few months to dismantle the majority of its program.

On the other hand, such approach coming from the US officials have led Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, to doubt the prospects of the upcoming summit. Even Trump has added fuel to the fire by saying that things in North Korea “will only end like the Libyan model if Kim Jong-un disagrees to make a deal.”

However, Trump later took his words back saying, “The United States is not looking to Libya as a model for the administration’s approach to denuclearization.” Trump also said that he does not seek regime change in North Korea.

Amid the ruckus, a new US intelligence assessment has warned that the disarmament process might take up to a decade to implement. “Rapid denuclearization is unrealistic and will just not work with North Korea.”

The assessment, reported by experts at Stanford University, aided White House’s endeavor to verify the commitment of North Korea towards denuclearization. The report also proposed measures to achieve the objective, prior to a potential summit between the two leaders.

Report stated: “The Trump administration must adopt a disarmament approach that would compel North Korea to renounce its nuclear weapons in phases, in exchange for sanctions relief and other rewards as particular targets are met.”

At present, the best option for US is to follow a phased approach to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, targeting the most perilous parts first.

Trump is more unpredictable than Kim Jong-un. He can be irrational at times. As US-North Korean summit envoys meet in Singapore to present their standpoints on denuclearization, it’s uncertain whether Trump’s stance will remain flexible or will he continue to be unreasonable.

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