Daniel DePetris urges the Trump administration to prioritize peace in Korea over its dead-end pursuit of disarming North Korea:
Instead of limiting these inter-Korean initiatives by insisting on an immediate denuclearization that will not occur, Washington should encourage—and when appropriate, assist—its South Korean allies in continuing to make progress.
The Trump administration’s North Korea policy has been failing from the start because it insisted on making North Korean disarmament its first and perhaps only real goal. Since North Korean disarmament isn’t happening, holding inter-Korean rapprochement hostage to that unrealistic goal isn’t doing anyone any favors. The U.S. should be willing to waive and even lift sanctions on North Korea when doing so helps South Korea’s policy of engagement.
President Moon is the only allied leader who has made any substantive headway in negotiations with Kim Jong-un, and his diplomatic efforts should have Washington’s full support. Those efforts have yielded more positive results in a year than more than a decade of futile nuclear sanctions have achieved. Pompeo’s fixation on “final, fully verified denuclearization” should be set aside as the distraction and obstacle that it is, and the U.S. should get out of the way our South Korean ally as it works to find a modus vivendi with its neighbor.