Next steps in the North Korea talks

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump at June 12 summit in Singapore
Kim Jong-un (L) appears to think President Donald Trump is a loose cannon operating independently from his administration. That assumption is wrong. (source: dpa)
  • The U.S. is pushing hard for a quick breakthrough on denuclearizing North Korea
  • Pyongyang mistakenly believes it can split President Trump from his administration
  • The likely result is an impasse and U.S. reversion to “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang

As the nuclear disarmament talks proceed between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the negotiating strategies of the two sides are incompatible. These opposed courses could soon lead to an impasse. Even so, the prospects for an escalation of conflict remain low.

After their meeting in Singapore in June, U.S. President Donald Trump confidently pronounced that he and North Korean leader Kin Jong-un would successfully negotiate a diplomatic path forward. President Trump went so far as to declare the DPRK was no longer a nuclear threat.

Since the meeting, there have been conflicting signals from both sides, including inconclusive high-level engagement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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