One of the National Interest’s most popular North Korea scholars puts forward for debate an interesting-and controversial-idea. Could this work?
Money: The One Thing America Could Give to North Korea to Denuclearize?
It is tempting to blame North Korea for failed nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang has certainly been a dubious, cheating counter-party in the past, most recently over the ” Leap Day Deal.” It is also true that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered President Donald Trump a lopsided, heavily North Korea-balanced deal-full sanctions relief in exchange for closing one aging nuclear facility-when they met for a second time in February. Trump was right to walk away from the “bad deal” that Kim Jong-un presented to him at the Hanoi summit.
But it should be noted that the United States has also offered lopsided deals during negotiations. In the run-up to the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last year, Trump administration officials kept insisting that they would only accept the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” (CVID) of the North, and that this was too happen speedily. This insistence continued into the fall of 2018, which is when U.S. officials went to Pyongyang to negotiate. CVID is an enormous demand, effectively asking for unilateral disarmament after the North spent decades developing the deadly weapons. In exchange the United States offered vagaries about a peace treaty or modernization, but it did not offer anything close to the value of the North’s nukes.
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