What Happens Next in US-DPRK Relations

March 21, 2019
Grace Liu

The following is an excerpt published by The National Interest.

Grace Liu

CNS Expert, Grace Liu

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un failed to reach a deal last week in Hanoi, a surprising result to even the most skeptical viewers, who expected to see some vague agreement on “denuclearization” in exchange for sanctions relief.

Despite this negative outcome, KCNA, a North Korean state media outlet, called the summit a “meaningful opportunity … to further the interests of the U.S. and DPRK” and said the leaders were able to make “remarkable progress” during this meeting. President Trump echoed similar sentiments in his press statement saying, “I think actually, it was a very productive two days,” and that his relationship with Kim remains “very strong.”

Although official statements from both governments relay optimism about the summit and the future of U.S.-DPRK relations, their actions seem to indicate otherwise.

The day after the summit, open-source analysts noticed activity at North Korea’s main launch site and a rocket production facility, indicating that North Korea could be preparing to launch a satellite or a missile. It’s still unclear if Kim Jong-un is using these rocket launch preparations to urge Trump to return to negotiations. In response, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News, “the president is obviously open to talking again” but is not “desperate” for a deal. Bolton said in another interview that the United States’ strategy now is to wait for North Korea to make the next moves to return to negotiations.

These responses from the Trump administration seem to reflect the same mistakes that likely led to the failed summit in the first place: a failure to discern North Korean messaging or address the rift that still divides North Korean and U.S. expectations for a future agreement.

Continue reading at The National Interest.

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