What South Korea's Moon has but Trump does not

The first big test of whether things are truly off track will come this week, when North Korea is due to destroy the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in full view of global observers and journalists.

Last week, North Korea scrapped a series of follow up high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the upcoming Singapore summit between Trump and Kim in protest of the ongoing military drills between the United States and South Korea. "We've had various working-level discussions on how to steer North Korea in a direction that we want, and I expect (Moon and Trump) will have great talks this time".

"The Government reiterates that the objective of the "Panmunjeom Declaration" adopted between leaders of the South and the North, is to end confrontations and hostilities of the past, and move toward a new era of reconciliation, peace and prosperity by fulfilling all inter-Korean agreements", the statement continued.

More fundamentally, it appears odd that the Trump administration does not recognize the contradiction between wanting to blow up the Iran nuclear deal and, at the same time, pressing North Korea to sign a nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that a planned historic meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un could be delayed.

"Moon Jae-in has been playing the role of matchmaker and he has heightened the expectations of both sides", said Shin, a nuclear non-proliferation expert and senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy.

Faced with outrage from Pyongyang and the possibility of a diplomatic fiasco, Trump was then forced to contradict his own national security adviser, denying that Washington was considering applying the "Libyan model" to North Korea. But the remarks still rankled in Pyongyang, and spoke to an apparent lack of understanding by Trump and those around him of North Korea's intentions going into the Singapore summit.

Mr Trump had repeatedly said the talks were shaping up well, even calling Mr Kim nice for releasing three American hostages held for more than a year.

"The stakes are high for Moon Jae-in because he put a lot into this as his signature policy for the next five years", said Frank Jannuzi, CEO of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and a contributor to the online Korea journal 38 North.

"It's not that North Korea rejects complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, but rather they need a tangible promise from Washington in return".

"The Libyan model is not a model that we have at all when we are thinking of North Korea", the president said Thursday. This would mean the removal of the U.S. "nuclear umbrella" over South Korea, not just the unilateral disarmament of North Korea. But things could get much worse.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

"This move testifies sincerity in the North's commitment to defusing tension through negotiations", he said. Yet the US has publicized unreasonable demands that North Korea is unlikely to accept.

The Russian expert speculated as to what turn the situation could take if Trump and Kim Jong-un finally met. "Trump would state that he did what other presidents were unable to do, particularly clinching an agreement that would ensure that North Korean missiles didn't pose a threat to American cities anymore and Pyongyang started abandoning its weapons, though that might not be the whole truth", Toloraya said.

North Korea intends to make a big show of dismantling its test site by collapsing access tunnels, but it can always build more tunnels, dig the tunnels back out again, or test somewhere else.

However, it remains to be seen if Trump and Moon can keep the goodwill going before the U.S.