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Expectations v. Reality Regarding Negotiations With North Korea

The world would applaud President Trump if Kim Jong-Un agrees to dismantle his nuclear warheads and nuclear weapons program during their upcoming negotiations. However, that is unlikely to happen, and the closing of part of one of N. Korea's nuclear testing facilities says very little about their future intentions. The question will be how Trump reacts when he doesn't get what he has promised to the American people. Its possible that he will, as usual, obfuscate the results by claiming that Kim has promised more than he has, but its also possible that he simply walks away from the talks and tensions again rise on the Korean Peninsula.

The talks, however, could be a success without complete denuclearization . Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute argues in Foreign Affairs that we must accept the reality of a nuclear-armed N. Korea. He states:

"Kim is working toward winning a de facto recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power in exchange for his agreement to respect certain limits — an end to certain missile tests and nuclear explosions, an agreement not to export nuclear technology to other states, and perhaps a pledge by North Korea not to use nuclear weapons. To accept this would represent a complete and total retreat from decades of U.S. policy — a retreat that I believe is overdue and the inevitable consequence of North Korea’s development of ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons. We have to learn to accept North Korea as it is. And what North Korea is, is nuclear-armed."

We would all like to see President Trump get more, but this might well be what we can actually expect from the negotiations. It's not what Trump has promised, but such an agreement would reduce tensions in E. Asia. The question will be how the President reacts to what could be perceived as a very public failure. But it wouldn't be seen in that light if he sets expectations correctly, and he still has time to do that.


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