Watching the whole Trump-Kim mutual glorification game unfold it would be nice to think their summit portends a step away from nuclear holocaust, at least as far as the Korean corner of the world is concerned.

And perhaps it does, but not quite as most folk imagine.

See, Kim Jong-un really only has two bargaining chips: his own nuclear weapons, and China's support for his regime. The latter is a nebulous and complex relationship, leaving the former as the only toy he can really threaten with; so why would he give it up?

Sure, he's agreed to "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula, but North Korea has gone on developing warheads despite four times agreeing not to.


So while this latest bit of PR spin might sound good, if there's one thing all the commentators and analysts agree on, it's that North Korea will not unilaterally disarm itself - or completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons.
Especially given those words – which US diplomats had pushed for - are not included in the text that was signed.

What was included? Very little. Apart from the too-thin nuclear clause, there was a promise to "establish new relations" between the US and the DPRK, to jointly work to build "a lasting and stable peace regime" on the peninsula – whatever that means – and to return any POW or missing in action remains to their country of origin. That's it.

The only real concession made came outside the summit after the agreement was signed, when President Trump announced the cancellation of all future allied "war games" in the region.

Whether this includes any with Japan was not immediately clear, but to say the South Koreans were dismayed at this unexpected lead balloon is understatement.

Why did the man famed for penning The Art of the Deal throw such a large bone to Chairman Kim?

There are two schools of thought. One is that the whole summit process was whipped up merely in order to show the folks back home what a great statesman Trump is, rising above all the mutual name-calling and promised destruction volleyed back and forth in previous months, and this extra was to demonstrate how magnanimous he could be with people – even enemies - who made a show of going along with him.

Traditional allies of the G7, take good note!

The other – which is not mutually exclusive – is this is Trump's way of taking the moral high ground, so that whatever action may be held to be necessary in future when the so-called "deal" falters can be blamed on North Korea, who will always be painted as the "bad sports".

Kim Jong-un is doubtless basking in the glory of what he sees as a diplomatic coup that helps legitimise his rule, but I suspect he's been sucker-punched; for all he is a dictator, he needs to understand that in essence Trump is a mobster, with a mobster's instincts and way of resolving problems.

I suggest Trump's "no exercises" offer was not a laurel leaf; it's designed to hook China into backing the US position by giving China everything it wants.

That's very crafty because if there's one thing the Chinese try to avoid above all else, it's losing face. When, as seems almost inevitable, push comes to shove over Korea, China may find itself too compromised to back its puppet-ally further.

At which point, the US wins. And, strange as it sounds, then Trump will, via his own kiss-of-death version of mobster diplomacy, have proved himself a genuine statesman.

As much as I had trouble writing that, you read it here first!