If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and that applies in spades to North Korea’s sudden interest in talking with the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.
As detailed in this month’s IWF Policy Focus on “The Challenge of North Korea,” there is a long, unbroken record of North Korea exploiting talks and nuclear deals for whatever concessions it can get, then trashing the deal and carrying on with its nuclear missile program — which now appears on the verge of fielding nuclear-tipped missiles that could reach the United States.
North Korea’s overture to the U.S. comes as the latest gambit in a “charm offensive” that has already entailed Pyongyang’s tyrant Kim Jong Un sending a large delegation, including his sister, Kim Yo Jong, to last month’s Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. This week, Kim Jong Un hosted a South Korean delegation for a two-day visit to Pyongyang, including a four-hour dinner, which North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency described as held “in a warm atmosphere overflowing with compatriotic feelings.”
The South Korean delegation returned home to report that Kim was willing to meet in late April for a summit with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, and is willing to start talking with the U.S. about denuclearization.
It’s tempting to interpret all this as evidence that President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure,” including tougher sanctions, is finally persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. But the far likelier scenario is that North Korea would use any talks not as a road to peace, but as yet another pitstop enroute to an industrial-scale nuclear arsenal with which it could blackmail the U.S. and proceed with its “compatriotic” ambitions not to sup with South Korea, but to subjugate it.
This season’s erstwhile “peace” moves by North Korea come after two years of accelerated rogue activity, in which North Korea has conducted the last three of its six nuclear tests to date, and successfully tested long-range rockets designed to threaten the United States. Talks will not bring an end to this menace; they will instead dignify North Korea’s totalitarian regime, while buying it time to refresh and reload. For more on the history, background, and why the only real solution requires an end to the North Korean regime, please see IWF’s “The Challenge of North Korea.”