July 24, 2018

PacNet #46 - Kim Jong Un’s Long Game

By Duyeon Kim

Welcome to North Korean Negotiations 101. North Korea’s reaction to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Pyongyang was expected and does not signal the end of the diplomatic process; it just shows us it will be a long and difficult one. On top of dealing with North Korean-style negotiations, President Donald Trump already made important concessions too soon before concrete North Korean denuclearization steps while Kim is playing a long game, looking 40 to 50 years down the road. Trump, on the other hand, seems to be focused on the next 2.5 years, until the next US presidential election in 2020.

A successful diplomatic process will depend on three things: First, whether North Korea agrees to declare all of its nuclear inventory and submit to intrusive verification measures; second, whether all sides can agree on a sequence for denuclearization, security guarantees, and peace; and third, whether President Trump has the political commitment and patience to see this through. If diplomacy fails, and the Trump administration only manages to place a Band-Aid over the problem, the result could be an economically vibrant, nuclear-armed North Korea that enjoys normal relations with Washington.

Round one, Kim. The winner of the first round of negotiations in Singapore was undisputedly Kim Jong Un—and by extension, Chinese President Xi Jinping—because Trump revealed Washington’s ultimate bargaining card too soon: US troop withdrawal from Korea. Another major summit success for North Korea was that Trump accepted Pyongyang’s decades-old demand that the United States and South Korea cancel their joint military drills. To be sure, the joint drills have been cancelled before, but that was in 1992, before Pyongyang had nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles. The longer the soldiers do not train and exercise, the more their readiness declines, and the weaker the rationale becomes for justifying their presence on the peninsula from Pyongyang and Beijing’s point of view.


Read the Full Article at CSIS

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • October 15, 2019
    The Nonintervention Delusion

    Richard Fontaine addresses the most frequently expressed concerns about U.S. military interventions and concludes that the use of military force will remain a key component of...

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • October 12, 2019
    Why Huawei Isn’t So Scary

    5G may have become a buzzword, but the notion that countries must rush to be first to deploy it is mistaken and reckless—and increases the odds of security breaches. There’s n...

    By Elsa B. Kania & Lindsey R. Sheppard

  • Commentary
    • The Hill
    • October 11, 2019
    Time for Congress to Establish a U.S. Digital Development Fund

    As impeachment deliberations roil Washington, Congress will be tempted to look inward and dial back on efforts to address the challenge China poses to American security, prosp...

    By Daniel Kliman

  • Commentary
    • October 10, 2019
    Why the United States Needs a Digital Development Fund

    What the executive branch and Congress can do to counter China’s expanding digital footprint across the developing world....

    By Daniel Kliman

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia