June 13, 2018

After Singapore summit, Congress must navigate a path to normalization

By Patrick M. Cronin and Kristine Lee

Following the Trump-Kim summit, Congress will find itself juggling two somewhat conflicting briefs: giving the president space to make diplomatic headway while ensuring that significant concessions to North Korea do not precede steps toward implementing a rigorous verification protocol.

The Trump administration has shown appreciation for the need to include Congress in any process toward a nuclear deal in order to ensure its durability. Equally, there is a push in Congress to demand a stringent inspection regime while retaining a clear-eyed understanding of the near-impossibility of implementing such a regime.

The North Korea Nuclear Baseline Act, which a group of Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives introduced in advance of the Singapore summit, offers a modest starting point for congressional oversight of U.S. engagement with North Korea. However, in the coming weeks, months, and in perhaps even years — in the unlikely event that we manage to short-circuit a complete meltdown of a deal — Congress will need to play a strong role in shaping, implementing, and overseeing any agreement.


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