If you’ve watched news coverage from last week’s US-North Korea summit in Vietnam, you may have concluded that President Trump failed to meet his objectives. A closer look suggests an unmistakable message the president sent to Iran – and how it benefits Israel.
“It could put more pressure on Iran,” wrote Yonah Jeremy Bob, the intelligence, terrorism and legal analyst for The Jerusalem Post. “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.
“If Trump had cut such a deal,” Bob explained, “Iran could have pushed back against US sanctions and asked why it needs to make more concessions when Pyongyang got a deal without giving up its nuclear weapons.”
The "Phase of No Return"
South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed confidence in President Trump’s decision to end the Vietnam summit early, according to Aljazeera. During a meeting of his National Security Council, Moon said he believes that the North Korean proposal of shutting down one nuclear facility in exchange for lifting all sanctions would have ended all negotiations about complete denuclearization. He called that possible outcome a “phase of no return.”
Aljazeera reported North Korea’s claim that they only requested ending some sanctions in exchange for shuttering that single nuclear facility. “The South Korean president said the two parties ‘will reach an agreement in the end’ but urged them to work for an early resumption of working-level dialogue ‘because we do not want the stalemate to be prolonged,’” Aljazeera wrote.
One day after ending the summit early, North Korea hinted that a third meeting was possible. The country’s official KCNA news agency reported Trump and Kim had a “constructive and candid exchange.”
Trump challenged Kim to “go all in” and said a proposed agreement was “ready to be signed.”
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented on the abrupt end to the Vietnam summit, he has praised Trump’s decision to meet with Kim, calling the first summit “historic” and linking the talks to Washington’s tough stance on Iran.
“President Trump is also taking a firm stance against Iran’s attempt to obtain nuclear weaponry, as well as its belligerence in the Middle East,” Netanyahu added.
The Iranian Response
The president’s decision that “sometimes you have to walk” dealt a blow to the Iranian strategy, which was to wait for yet another US president’s face-saving deal with North Korea – that Kim would ignore. Iran seems to have received the message. Public statements, however, remain defiant.
“President Trump should've now realized that pageantries, photo-ops, and flip-flops don’t make for serious diplomacy,” tweeted Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in a mocking response to the summit’s lack of a deal.
“It took 10 years of posturing plus two years – literally thousands of hours – of negotiations to hammer out every word of the 150-page JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal). You'll never get a better deal,” Zarif declared.
Dave Lawler, editor of the left-leaning news website Axios, predicted in January that the Iran nuclear deal would crumble in 2019, despite Iran’s efforts to keep it alive. Lawler analyzed a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) that said Iran “is unlikely to simply walk away from the pact.
“But Iran will seek to inflict pain on the U.S. as sanctions continue to bite,” Lawler said, and expects those jabs to come through “military means.”
Lawler believes a Trump re-election would force Iran to return to negotiations, believing Iran couldn’t stand up to the punishing sanctions for six more years. The ICG report predicts that Iran would then have to “build up leverage again” with “significant escalation” on the nuclear front.
How you can help
Please pray with us for denuclearization talks and sanctions to bring peace rather than increased Iranian aggression against Israel.