A letter from a number of ranking Senate Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is setting out a series of demands for any denuclearization deal with North Korea. The letter suggests they intend to undermine any sort of deal made in the Trump-Kim summit next week.
The letter demands any denuclearization deal be complete and “permanent,” and threatens legislation to prevent any sanctions relief without their approval. They also demand that Trump force China to play a role in enforcing the deal.
This closely mirrors the way Congressional Republicans undermined the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, as reached by President Obama. This ultimately led to the US withdrawing from the deal just a couple of years into it.
With Iran as a precedent, Congressional Democrats likely believe they too can play spoiler for a high-profile diplomatic accomplishment of a president from the other party, and can greatly undermine any denuclearization agreement, risking US compliance with it going forward.
The White House is so far trying to downplay this, saying they don’t intend to ease sanctions until the denuclearization is completed. Yet even if they try to downplay the practical differences, that the Democrats are setting themselves up as antagonistic to the deal clearly has implications.
During the talks, President Trump must now consider his offers to North Korea both as they relate to the deal and as they relate to Congress. More importantly, North Korea will be going over US proposals to see if they can depend on Congress not to reverse an otherwise done deal.
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