News analysis

High hopes but pitfalls ahead, especially on issue of disarmament

In theory, prospects for a peaceful settlement on the Korean peninsula have seldom been better; tomorrow's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae In is set to be followed by a US-North Korea summit, a truly historic encounter which could usher a spectacular process of nuclear disarmament.

But although optimism is a good starting point for summits, hopeful sentiments are never a good ingredient to their ultimate success. For the diplomatic road ahead will be long and hard, and attention to the technical details of any deal will be much more important than the immediate photo opportunities generated by such gatherings. Nor is it very clear that the various participants share the same understanding about the building blocks of a future settlement. And nowhere could differences in perception be greater than in the very concept of nuclear disarmament.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'High hopes but pitfalls ahead, especially on issue of disarmament'. Print Edition | Subscribe