The US has long held the view that North Korea’s illegitimate military activities can’t be traded away for its right to do legitimate military activities. Less than a year ago, Robert Wood, the US ambassador to the United Nation’s Conference on Disarmament, made the following remarks, criticizing the rationale for China’s dual-suspension proposal:

We firmly reject any false equivalency between North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile programs, which are enormously destabilizing and have been repeatedly condemned by the UN Security Council, and our long-standing joint activities with our allies, which are transparent and defensive in nature.

Many North Korea watchers have noted that the Singapore summit agreement lacks substance, despite Trump touting it as “very comprehensive.” For one thing, North Korea’s commitment on “complete denuclearization” is simply a repeat of its previous promise from the inter-Korean summit in April, and it lacks a clear definition.

Trump downplayed Beijing’s role in the denuclearization process. He said the US is working on the issue with South Korea, and Japan—as well as with China, but “to a lesser extent.” He added he would likely call Chinese president Xi Jinping “very shortly” about the summit.

A statement from Beijing today indicated its satisfaction with the outcome. “The United States and North Korea have been in a state of antagonism for more than half a century,” China’s foreign minister told reporters in Beijing after the Trump-Kim summit. “Today, that the two countries’ highest leaders can sit together and have equal talks, has important and positive meaning, and is creating a new history. China of course supports it.”

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