North Korea has agreed to engage in “heart-to-heart” denuclearization talks with the United States in efforts to normalize relations between the two countries. Going so far as to say they are willing to give up their nuclear weapons programs if military threats against the hermit kingdom diminish. President Trump seems pleased with the progress however, has insinuated that his Administration is taking the North Korean announcement with a grain of salt with the following tweet:

“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”

The announcement of the North’s willingness to hold denuclearization talks was released by South Korea’s Presidential National Security Director Chung Eui-yong after leading a ten member delegation to Pyongyang for a two-day visit. Chung made the following announcement upon his return from Pyongyang:

“[North Korea] made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests”

Both North Korea and South Korea have agreed to continue their dialogue through summit talks that will be held at the border this April. The leaders of these talks will re-establish a hotline communication channel that will serve as a means to diminish military tensions between the two countries.

All wargames held between the United States and South Korea will continue as scheduled regardless of the North’s willingness to hold denuclearization talks. All sanctions that have been implemented up to this point will continue to be asserted despite the North’s decision to discuss possible denuclearization.

North Korea’s acquiescence to hold talks as a result of biting sanctions is nothing new, so we can que the refrain since we have heard this song before. The tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have been a problem for the United States for quite some time now. The United States has been steadfast and deliberate in their calls for a denuclearized North Korea and has since applied the most stringent sanctions that the North has ever had to endure under President Trump.

North Korea is reported to run out of hard currency by October 2018 and it now appears they need relief from those sanctions, just as they have in the past. So they agree to hold talks to discuss “possible” denuclearization in an effort to get the United States and South Korea to reciprocate with easing sanctions.

Not so fast under President Donald Trump. The Trump Administration has stated their position of a denuclearized North Korea before holding talks. So the only relief the Trump Administration will likely reciprocate with will be a willingness to hold talks before North Korea begins to dismantle their nuclear programs. There have been past summits held in 2000 and again in 20007 that have not ended in meaningful and lasting peace agreements. North Korea’s sincerity has been geared towards sanctions relief in the past and there is no reason to assume otherwise at this point in time.

Since 1985 the United States has engaged with North Korea regarding their nuclear ambitions. North Korea has yet to offer a sincere willingness to denuclearize the country since those tensions began. The only time North Korea seems to come to the table is to buy time in order to further their nuclear and missile programs. President Trump is taking the right approach here, hope for the best but expect the worst. And President Trump has proclaimed that he has the willingness to go either way while he insinuates that choice hinges on the North Koreans dictator’s sincerity in denuclearization.

If “reunification” is the goal of the North Korean leadership then that does not bode well for South Koreans. North Korea has peddled their idea of “reunification” as the “final victory” of the Korean War that ended with an armistice in 1953. Technically the war never ended. Both sides merely agreed not to provoke the other, an agreement many analysts say the North has not adhered to. The last thing the United States will allow is for South Korea to fall into the hands of the brutal North Korean regime.

North Korea’s decision to hold talks with the U.S. marks a major victory for the Trump Administration but skepticism is demanded as they move forward. The Administration is taking the right approach to the North’s announcement of a willingness to hold talks of “possible” denuclearization. The Trump Administration seems to be cautiously agreeing to engage in discussions while holding their position on the current state of sanctions that have crippled the North in recent months. There need be no sanction relief of any kind without an agreement of full denuclearization of the North Korean dictatorship that must involve frequent and unfettered inspections by International Atomic Energy Inspectors (IAEA).

 

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