The US special envoy to North Korea will meet his counterpart in Pyongyang today to discuss outcomes for a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly secured a commitment from Mr Kim last October to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear enrichment facilities in return for “corresponding measures”. Such measures, as well as compliance measures, will form the basis of today’s discussions.
While Pyongyang detonated its nuclear test site last May, weapons development facilities elsewhere—including the Yongbyon nuclear reactor—remain operational. Washington wants all of these facilities, as well as weapons and fissile material stockpiles, declared and decommissioned before sanctions are lifted and its 23,000 troops withdrawn from South Korea withdrawn. At present, this scenario seems unlikely.
Indeed, senior intelligence officials told the Senate last week that North Korea “is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival”.
For Mr Trump, a ‘deal’ with North Korea would provide crucial foreign policy ammunition heading into the 2020 election. Mr Kim and his cadres know this and will try to use the president’s penchant for transactional foreign policy to leverage concessions.
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Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.