WASHINGTON: James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tells Axios there are three scenarios for how this could play out over the next two weeks:
No deal (for now).
An agreement with no verification. Acton calls that the “Singapore scenario,” referring to Trump’s 2018 summit with Kim Jong-un. That’s possible if Trump “just wants a deal and doesn’t care about the details.”
An agreement with a “vague statement” on verification. The U.S. could spin that as a win, but it “won’t actually commit the Russians to anything,” he says.
Breaking it down: Any deal that can be reached by Nov. 3 will require “a pretty drastic fallback in the U.S. position,” Vaddi says.
The U.S. has consistently demanded very strict verification for any deal, and just two months ago it was insisting that China take part in any nuclear negotiations.
“There’s been some shift in Trump’s and Putin’s views that gets them a little bit closer to an agreement,” Vaddi says.
By offering proposals directly, Putin has now taken a more public role in this process than Trump.
“The single most important factor is how much Trump personally wants this,” Acton says.
“If he’s not engaged, no deal is by far the most likely option. If he does care — if he is engaged and he wants something — I think it’s highly likely you end up with something.”