Trump and kim jong un: Climbing the diplomatic ladder

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Abstract

Article Type: Commentary Purpose—To assess U.S.–North Korea diplomacy under Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, which has featured leader summits but few working-level negotiations, producing a nuclear and long-range missile test moratorium but not denuclearization. Design/Methodology/Approach—Unpack and compare the Trump and Kim strategies with particular attention to the intersection of economic and security interests and the interaction of domestic and international politics. Findings—Kim is willing to engage in threat reduction for economic benefits and de facto acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. Trump aims to put Kim in a domestic political position of having to deliver economic growth, the sanctions relief for which would require denuclearization. Both leaders claim the advantage, but time is not on the side of either strategy. Practical Implications—No relevant party, least of all South Korea, wants Trump and Kim to return to military escalation. But to climb rather than fall off the diplomatic ladder, the U.S. and North Korea need an intermediate rung to grasp. This could entail a “big definition” of Yongbyon’s dismantlement in exchange for sanctions exemptions for inter–Korean projects and relief from UN sectoral bans with snapback provisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalNorth Korean Review
Volume16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Denuclearization
  • Economic sanctions
  • Military deterrence
  • Performance legitimacy
  • Security alliance

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