While U.S. President Donald J. Trump has assured Americans that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” and continues to praise North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the Washington Post reported Monday that satellite evidence suggests North Korea is continuing to manufacture intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). This disconnect comes from Trump not focusing on the right actions or metrics when it comes to his stated objective of denuclearization: Trump is treating all news as great news, thus putting his own U.S. negotiators at a disadvantage in the diplomatic process.
Many of North Korea’s recent gestures toward the United States have been along the lines of atmospheric confidence-building measures. It’s released three American hostages, returned the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War, and unilaterally committed to a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. These steps are bricks that form the foundation upon which further negotiations and agreements will be built. However, a diplomatic negotiation cannot be comprised solely of confidence-building steps – there must be substantive action to make meaningful progress.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Diplomat.
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