Asia Transnational Threats Forum: Counterterrorism in Asia
Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American policy in East Asia
Reimagining the U.S.-South Korea alliance
[Regarding President Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week] If Kim cannot obtain meaningful sanctions relief from the Trump administration, it could hurt him domestically. The risk to him is that the sanctions will remain and they’ll get stronger. Because he has so personally taken ownership of economic development, he has to deliver.
[Regarding international inspection of North Korea's nuclear facilities] North Korea does not want people running around their country looking at their nuclear facilities or their missile facilities...[A deal including inspections] would be a big change and a good signpost of North Korean sincerity on denuclearization if they did allow inspectors into their facilities.
[Memo by the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations urgently requesting international food aid] is consistent with Pyongyang’s tactics to weaken the sanctions regime by appealing to humanitarian concerns. Even though the regime imports hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury items, it consistently blames the U.S. and U.N. for its problems.
[Kim Jong Un's succession and establishing Ri Sol Ju as the mother of the next North Korean leader] In the past his father and grandfather had multiple wives and there was intense jockeying about who was the heir. He knows the regime focuses on bloodlines, and he has Kim Il Sung’s blood in his veins...[Kim Jong Un] is the third Kim. Is he going to be the one that gives up nuclear weapons and makes North Korea beholden to outside powers? I doubt it.
Now that [Kim Jong Un has] finished the nuclear weapons program, Kim is focusing on the economic development aspect of a dual-track policy. Now he can engage from a position of strength as an equal, an international statesman...People are mistaking his summit diplomacy as a sign that he’s willing to let the weapons go. That’s a misguided assumption. He can chew gum and talk and have summits at the same time...Kim wants economic development on his own terms. He wants to be able to control who gets it and he wants to be able to make sure the regime stays intact without outside information about democracy or economic reform infecting the populace. There is only so much he can do while sanctions are in place.