Four years ago, Kim Jong Un and then-President Donald Trump had an extraordinary summit, the first ever between U.S. and North Korean leaders.
They signed an agreement on new peaceful relations and called for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” Trump declared that he trusted Kim, saying, “I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly.”
But nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled since 2019. Pyongyang has rejected Washington’s offers of talks without preconditions, and seems intent on sticking to its plan to beef up its arsenal.
When President Biden arrives in South Korea Friday for a two-day summit with his counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol, who was elected in March, the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons will be high on the agenda. The leaders are facing a North Korea with a more formidable arsenal and more political leverage than before.
Pyongyang has already conducted 16 missile test launches this year. Seoul and Washington are on alert for a possible test launch of additional missiles timed to coincide with Biden’s visit.
They are also monitoring for a possible underground nuclear test, which would be the first by North Korea since 2017.