North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang, North Korea, May 10, 2016.
Damir Sagolj / Reuters

After U.S. President Donald Trump  announced earlier this month that he would consider holding a spring summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there has been a flurry of debate over what the president should seek from the potential meeting. On one end of the spectrum is the popular notion of denuclearizing North Korea, which usually means complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, or CVID. Although professing nominal commitment to this goal, Kim appears to be conditioning it on such formidable requirements that it is extremely unlikely his regime will actually pursue this in any meaningful time frame, no matter how hard the United States sanctions, threatens, or incentivizes it. Kim believes it would be suicidal to give up his “existential” deterrent, so complete denuclearization is simply not on the table today.

Even if it were negotiable in the near term, CVID is

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  • TOBY DALTON is Co-Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • ARIEL LEVITE is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the former Principal Deputy Director General for Policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

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