The “two strands of Donald Trump’s nuclear diplomacy” – with Iran and North Korea – are set to intertwine in “ways that are hard to predict”, says Julian Borger in The Guardian. Trump is threatening to pull out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran (the JCPOA) by “refusing to extend sanctions waivers” when they expire on 12 May. A few weeks later he is due to hold an unprecedented summit with Kim Jong-un, at which he hopes to persuade the North Korean leader to give up his nuclear arsenal.
Trump believes that the Iran deal is flawed, and that pulling out of it would show North Korea that he is a tough negotiator who will settle for “nothing less” than permanent nuclear disarmament. But Kim may not see it this way. Scrapping the JCPOA could reinforce his belief that the Americans can’t be trusted, making him cling to his nuclear arsenal all the more.
A successful deal with North Korea could, ironically, look similar to the Iran deal Trump seems “intent on scrapping”, says Ishaan Tharoor in The Washington Post. But how likely is a deal anyway? There have been other “false dawns” and a gulf exists between the two sides’ expectations for “denuclearisation”. Kim has made all the right noises, but the regime has a history of “empty promises”, says Eli Lake on Bloomberg. The real test is whether he will take visible steps to “dismantle his nuclear infrastructure”. Kim’s ability to garner “optimistic headlines” is a “testament to his connivance, not his intentions”.
Anything could happen when the two men sit down together, says Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. But for now, Trump’s “peculiar form of diplomacy – a combination of belligerence, bluster, name-calling and ignorance of history – has somehow produced a possible breakthrough” that eluded his predecessors. If he pulls off it off, he’ll deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, as South Korea’s Moon Jae-in has suggested.