(CNN)In the most important sense, the Hanoi summit failed for a very simple reason: North Korea will not eliminate its nuclear arsenal over the next months or years. However, this does not mean that negotiations are doomed to fail or misguided — just the opposite. It is more important than ever that negotiations succeed in limiting the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea. Without a decisive shift in course, a third summit would only end up like the first two.
Pyongyang’s conduct over the last year and decade should leave no doubt about its intention to retain its nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang has made unreasonable requests for compensation, obfuscated or stonewalled during talks and has continued to expand, conceal, and deploy its arsenal even as they continued. The Hanoi summit failed to disarm North Korea because North Korea won’t disarm.
But in another sense, the summit failed because the Trump administration has maintained an inflexible insistence that immediate disarmament is the only acceptable outcome.