The Danger of Unrealistic Goals for North Korea Diplomacy
The U.S. and Japan released a joint statement calling on North Korea to give up not only its nuclear weapons, but also to abandon all “weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.” TAC contributor Harry Kazianis responded to the statement earlier today:
"#NorthKorea needs to abandon all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs." -U.S.-Japan Summit readout. There is no way Kim agrees to that, unless #China somehow gurantees its security and gives massive amounts of economic aid. This is going to end badly.
— Harry Kazianis (@GrecianFormula) April 20, 2018
As the inter-Korean summit approaches and the Trump-Kim meeting draws closer, the gap between the U.S. and North Korean positions does not appear to have narrowed at all. If anything, the demands from the U.S. and Japan have increased and become even more unrealistic than they already were. Instead of moderating demands and tempering expectations about what North Korea is willing to give up, the Trump administration and the Abe government are doing just the opposite. This may succeed in reassuring Japan that the U.S. isn’t going to make a deal that Tokyo can’t accept, but it practically guarantees that no agreement can be reached with North Korea.
If Trump goes to the summit thinking that North Korea is going to agree to any of this, he has been misled and will be setting himself up for failure. If the U.S. and its allies aren’t prepared to make an extraordinarily generous offer in return, it is likely that nothing good will come from the meeting between Trump and Kim. The danger is that the hard-liners around Trump will exploit a summit failure as an excuse to ratchet up tensions and push for military action and he will be more inclined to listen to them.