Kim Jung-un is probably confused about his options. But he shouldn’t be. Yet his state of mind could make deliberations very difficult and even cause negotiations to break down. A poor decision by Kim to retain his nuclear arsenal could occur because of the young despot’s inexperience, reluctance to rely upon the instincts of informed advisors and a burning desire to save his regime.
Ironically, NOKO has no reason to fear military intervention if it gives up its nukes. Frankly, the danger to the country is exponentially greater if Kim moves forward with his nuclear aspirations. This strategy would only serve to infuriate the US, South Korea and Japan, and increase the threat of military action and/or greater economic sanctions.
If the US guarantees NOKO’s security and economic well-being along with China, Kim has no one to fear other than his own people, who will likely press him to improve economic and political conditions. Economic prosperity would be eminently feasible if the US and other nations began to trade with NOKO, and if Kim stops spending money on military assets.
Trump and Chinese leaders must convince Kim that his regime continues to be in great jeopardy. At 30-something years of age, he could enjoy a long tenure as head of his country. If he continues to base his power on nuclear weapons, the future will be cloudy for him and his countrymen. Kim should recognize that his own people will rebel and destabilize the country if he fails to make a deal with the US.
It’s reasonable to feel that President Trump is not the best person to be orchestrating this delicate negotiation. The good news is that the president is relying on, among other people, Mike Pompeo who is developing a productive working relationship with Kim and his lieutenants.
The progress Trump has made, as compared to all the US presidents since the Korean War, is startling. Trump is wise to be very measured in his promises. He is masterfully managing America’s expectations, and for good reason. The North Koreans have been very unreliable over the years. It may work out, and it’s looking pretty favorable at this moment. Americans should not expect immediate gratification. As Trump has described it, negotiations will be part of a longer-term process.
The true risk for the US is a deal that does not achieve the stated objectives because of Trump’s desire to make a big splash. Like Obama and Kerry, he could be influenced by the accolades of doing a deal, even a bad one. As we know, the definition of success is denuclearization and unobstructed inspections. If Trump is swayed by talk of a Nobel Prize and such, the NOKO deal could be as ineffective as Obama’s deal is with Iran.
Mr. President, you are dealing with the greatest threats to the human race- nuclear proliferation and war. Make the right decisions without being seduced by personal gain.