Both during the run-up to the PyeongChang Olympics and during the Winter Games, the tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons have appeared to relax significantly. Reports that Vice President Pence’s bellicose rhetoric derailed diplomacy with the North, however, reveal a harsher reality. After the Olympics are over, the temperature between Washington and Pyongyang will almost certainly spike again. Here are five reasons.
Inter-Korean diplomacy isn’t about nuclear weapons. The cooler temperatures on North Korea come from inter-Korean diplomacy — not diplomacy that includes the United States or other major powers. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea calculated that it was more advisable to have North Korea participate in the Olympics than to let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un spoil things from the periphery, potentially testing missiles or nuclear weapons just 60 miles to the north. The two countries have discussed holding more formal talks after the Olympics are over, including a possible summit meeting.
However, inter-Korean diplomacy is primarily focused not on North Korea’s weapons programs but on issues specific to North and South Korea, like reuniting families divided by the Korean War. What’s more, while in South Korea, Pence insisted that the North Korean presence at the Olympics was a “charade,” called the regime “tyrannical” and urged that the pressure campaign against it continue, suggesting a very different approach.
Read the full article in The Washington Post.