After the first meeting between the two leaders in Singapore in the summer of 2018, Trump declared a breakthrough in US-North Korean relations. He that there is “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Eight months later, however, it is clear that North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal have not been curtailed in any significant way. The arsenal is estimated to include as many as 60 weapons and the rockets to deploy them are able to reach any spot in the US.
The US intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment, released in January, declares that North Korea has retained its nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon’s 2019 Missile Defense Report calls the regime an “extraordinary threat” to the United States.
Why have the nuclear negotiations failed to yield progress in the nuclear disarmament of North Korea?
Both will need to change if progress is to be made.
That’s a problem because Chinese cooperation is key to Trump’s effort to impose on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. More than 90 percent of is conducted with China alone – giving Beijing, by far, the greatest economic leverage over Pyongyang. C
hina began wielding this leverage in 2017 as it UN trade sanctions on North Korea. However, in the past year, China has retaliated against Trump’s tariff hikes on Chinese exports in part by relaxing its on North Korea.
US allies and major trade partners, including Europe and Japan, share many of Trump’s concerns about China’s suspect trade practices and how it harms their economies. But they believe less combative approaches to China are preferable.
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A shift away from the confrontational approach would likely lead to increased Chinese cooperation with the sanctions campaign on North Korea.
The US strategy towards North Korea is based solely on forcing the country to surrender its entire nuclear program before offering relief from sanctions.
Kim Jong Un has vowed that North Korean disarmament will not happen without the US making concessions.
The US could just as easily use gradual relief from sanctions as leverage in exchange for disarmament steps. In the past, when North Korea took nuclear disarmament steps , they did so partially in response to offers of sanctions relief and aid from the United States, South Korea, Japan and other allies.
There are steps beyond sanctions relief that can also prod North Korea towards disarmament. Security guarantees are among the most important incentives to offer during negotiations. North Korea has that any substantial disarmament will come only after the US and its regional allies promise never to attack North Korea.
A large economic, energy and food aid package from the US and its allies could markedly improve the quality of life in North Korea. The country urgently needs assistance, and the ability of the US to meet this need gives Washington leverage over Pyongyang.
Sharing the Burden
Aid would not be cheap.
A study estimated that an effective aid package would cost US$30 billion. However, the costs could be spread over time, and would be shared across donor nations.
Trump’s second summit with North Korea provides him a second chance to reconsider his unyielding trade approach to China, and his reluctance to use incentives to encourage North Korean disarmament.
Persuading China to resume its cooperation with the embargo would increase for Kim the costs of resistance, and adding incentives would enhance the benefits of compromise.
Taken together, these measures could increase the chances that North Korea will finally begin dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
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