U.S. PRESIDENT Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un walk together in Sentosa, Singapore in June, 2018.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
Everyone would have been thrilled if US President Donald Trump had reached a historic deal getting North Korea to denuclearize.
But in the absence of that, the result could turn out to be very positive from the Israeli perspective, since it could put more pressure on Iran.
From Trump’s press conference, it appears that even with no deal, the two sides are still talking and there is no immediate danger of a deterioration or escalation into a conflict.
Just as importantly, Trump said that one always needs to be ready to walk away from a half deal which will not solve the overall problem.
Many thought going into the summit that Trump was so desperate for a deal that he would sign almost anything and make major concessions to North Korea in exchange for only partial denuclearization. That was clearly what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted.
From Trump’s press conference, it appears clear that part of the sticking point was North Korea offering to dismantle its YongByon nuclear facility and possibly others in exchange for a full removal of US sanctions.
But as Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out, signing that deal would have left the North without a declaration that it will give up all of its nuclear weapons stock and a large number of other facilities.
If Trump had cut such a deal, Iran could have pushed back against US sanctions and asked why it needs to make more concessions when Pyongyang got a deal without even giving up its nuclear weapons.
Israel has strong hopes that the current US pressure campaign will lead to Iran rolling back its ballistic missile testing and reducing its footprint in Syria.
All of that might have been put into question by a premature deal with chairman Kim.
Just wait out Trump and eventually he will crack for a face-saving partial deal, they may have thought in Tehran.
None of this means that the final result of US-North Korea negotiations will have a good impact on the nuclear standoff with the Islamic republic. Either blown negotiations that lead to a conflict or a premature deal could still be negative.
But it does mean a win for Israel since, at this particular stage, the Trump administration, and those forces looking to send a message to Tehran that it cannot wear down the US pressure, are holding their ground.
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