Samantha Vinograd is a CNN National Security Analyst. She served on President Obama's National Security Council from 2009-2013 and at the Treasury Department under President Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. This commentary has been updated to reflect the news.
(CNN)Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States.
North Korea summit: Peer pressure
- North Korea: The totalitarian regime will try to keep summit prospects warm because Kim probably believes he can get some economic relief, a reputational bump and a security blanket if he keeps negotiations ongoing. He thinks that if the diplomatic track is alive he can market himself as a committed, responsible negotiating partner. And while a face-to-face with Trump would help make Kim a media darling, there's a more significant benefit for him: a greater likelihood that other countries would consider lessening pressure on Pyongyang. At the same time, North Korea likely views a live negotiating track as a deterrent to a US military option. Mr. President, Kim's calculus is probably that if you think the diplomatic track could yield a positive outcome, you will be less likely to turn to military force.
- South Korea: President Moon Jae-in will do whatever it takes, including literally embracing Kim, to keep negotiations going because he assesses that both South Korea's security and his own job security are on the line. Moon has been a longtime proponent of a diplomatic approach, in no small part because a military strike would plausibly result in North Korean counterstrikes against South Korea. This would put millions of lives at risk. Moon may have oversold North Korea's willingness to negotiate in good faith to delay such action, in fact. His domestic approval ratings got a massive boost since the "diplomatic breakthrough" was announced in March and he met Kim at the demilitarized zone for the first time. President Trump, if Moon fails to pull a rabbit out of a hat and get you and Kim to meet face to face, he will look played by Kim and/or abandoned by you, either of which will mean a blow to his political standing and make a US military strike on the Korean peninsula look more likely.
- Russia: Vladimir Putin has historically picked sides, and it's not ours, it's all Kim's. Putin has accused the US of provoking North Korea on more than one occasion. And President Trump, he's likely to blame you -- not the man with the illegal nukes -- if the negotiations do in fact die. But remember -- whichever way this goes, it's a win for Moscow. If you are unsuccessful in getting Kim to denuclearize, or if it looks like Kim stood you up, you help Putin achieve his goal of undermining US credibility. If talks progress and the North skirts a military strike, that would also skirt the risk of the US sending more troops to the region or replacing Kim with a pro-American leader. That's also a positive outcome because Putin doesn't want us anywhere closer to Moscow. Although Putin is sending his foreign minister to North Korea this week, he is keeping relatively quiet publicly because he knows this all works in his favor.
- China: Like Russia, China has historically urged diplomacy with North Korea. A US military strike would upset the regional status quo that they enjoy and could result in refugees spilling into China and more US troops in the region. President Trump, if there is a perception that you torpedoed negotiations, then President Xi Jinping will manipulate that narrative and use it to bring US allies like South Korea closer to him and further from you. So China will support negotiations on at least a slow boil, but they'll want something for it. We know that lifting US penalties against telecommunications company ZTE has been a core focus for Xi, and in exchange for using their patronage of Kim Jong Un to urge him to play ball, they'll want more. Quid pro quos are on the menu.