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North Korea Denuclearization Isn't Free

September 4, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Last fall Washington and Pyongyang were exchanging insults and
threats, with the two nations sliding toward military
confrontation. A little over two months ago echoes of “Peace
in our Time” rang out in Singapore as President Donald Trump
and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un staged a friendly summit.

Today, to the cheer of neoconservative who prefer war to
compromise and Democrats who care only about discrediting the
president, relations between the two countries appear to be rolling
backward. Military confrontation again is a possibility.

Which demonstrates that the biggest problem with President
Trump’s diplomatic style is not that it is unorthodox. His
willingness to meet with Kim violated conventional wisdom but
offered a chance for a breakthrough. With the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea otherwise guaranteed to create a
growing nuclear arsenal capable of hitting the American
homeland—at least if the United States is unwilling to strike
militarily, which would start a Second Korean War—unorthodox
diplomacy probably offered the only hope for success.

The only realistic
strategy is to exchange advantage for advantage.

The chief challenge facing the president is ignorance. He almost
certainly knows nothing about North Korea’s history, leadership,
objectives, and interests. Even specialists disagree about these
issues. Is Kim following family destiny and unalterably determined
to conquer South Korea? Or is he a pragmatic if brutal ruler,
determined to simultaneously preserve his rule and strengthen his
nation? I lean toward the latter but understand the former claim.
President Trump, probably not.

This appears to have given rise to President Trump’s belief that
after receiving a strong handshake and few verbal assurances, the
DPRK leader was prepared to give up his nuclear weapons. No need to
spell out the specific security guarantees and economic benefits in
return. Kim agreed to toss caution to the wind, abandon weapons
developed at great expense and woven into the country’s political
fabric, sacrifice all his leverage for nothing, and place his trust
in an American administration with a somewhat casual view of living
up to national commitments. Sure.

In fact, few Korea specialists believed the North was prepared
to yield its nukes. They offer prestige, are useful as a tool of
extortion, and cement the military’s support for the regime. They
also ensure that Kim and his cohorts won’t end up like Libyan
leader Muammar Al Gaddafi. After all, Gaddafi gave up his nuclear
and missile programs only to end up starring in a gruesome YouTube
video in which rebels found and executed him. Therefore, while Kim
could reasonably make a deal on the margin—halt missile and
nuclear testing, cap the number of weapons, allow some forms of
safeguards/inspections, adopt other tension-reducing
measures—getting rid of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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