On the Korean Peninsula

Many are stoked believing that Trump may end North Korea’s nuclear program where the South Koreans have failed, decidedly or not (looking right at Moon Jae-In).

However, this is the same tactic as before:

U.S. President Donald Trump said, “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!” He is right to be skeptical. A high-ranking White House official said, “Talks will not continue if North Korea intends merely to buy more time to develop nuclear weapons. We all know we shouldn’t make a sequel to a bad movie.” And U.S. defense and intelligence officials all voiced skepticism during a recent Senate hearing.

North Korea has gone all out to develop nuclear weapons, an ambition that dates back to nation founder Kim Il-sung. It would be extremely naive to think that it will give them up. Kim Jong-un has embraced dialogue only because intensifying international sanctions now threaten to sink the impoverished country’s economy, and dialogue with the U.S. and an inter-Korean summit will delay any immediate American pre-emptive attack. And if dialogue can ease sanctions, Kim will gladly buy more time.

The only leverage Seoul has against Pyongyang right now is sanctions. They must remain firmly in place as Seoul engages the North in dialogue to prevent Kim from making the wrong decisions. If he believes he can achieve both nuclear armament and the scrapping of sanctions, the crisis on the Korean Peninsula will only worsen. Kim must be forced to choose. That is the only way to achieve peace. And Moon must live up to his word that sanctions will not be eased for the sake of an inter-Korean summit.