Stories by Adam Mount

Expert Voices

U.S. needs tactical shift in North Korea talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) listens to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on October 7, 2018. Photo: Kim Hong-Ji/AFP via Getty Images

In the past week, North Korea made two moves that undermined nuclear negotiations with the United States. On Friday, the regime vowed it could resume “building up nuclear forces.” And this week, Korean negotiators reportedly didn’t get on their plane to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York, furthering a trend of ignoring U.S. diplomats just under the president.

Why it matters: If talks fail now, Pyongyang will have weathered some economic pressure, but also enjoyed a year of producing missiles and nuclear warheads, collecting praise from the U.S. president, and building new diplomatic ties with Moscow and Beijing. Missiles that have been flown only once would likely be tested fully, while South Korea’s successful arms-control process would stagger on without an allied partner.

Expert Voices

With North Korea progress stalled, new course could still reduce threat

Mike Pompe and Kim Yong Chol walk into meeting room
Secretary of State Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, at their meeting in Pyongyang on July 7, 2018. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said on Twitter Monday he has "confidence that Kim Jong-un will honor the contract we signed" for the "denuclearization of North Korea." But in fact, Pyongyang has offered only a series of gradual, reciprocal steps unlikely to lead to full disarmament.

The details: After the Trump–Kim summit in Singapore and three Pyongyang visits by Secretary of State Pompeo, there is still little momentum to dismantle the nuclear program. North Korea has not agreed to stop nuclear and missile developments; open satellite imagery shows it is expanding its capacity to produce plutonium and uranium and to deploy a larger missile force; and the missile test site it offered to dismantle stands intact.

Expert Voices

To succeed with North Korea, U.S. must stand with the South

Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump shake hands at White House
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump in the Oval Office on May 22, 2018. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has been remarkably successful in using its negotiations to divide U.S. alliances in Northeast Asia, raising the stakes for South Korean President Moon Jae-in's White House visit today.

The backdrop: After a vibrant North-South summit at Panmunjom in April, Pyongyang has pivoted to shovel abuse onto its neighbor. The North canceled a promised meeting, assailed South Korea’s participation in military exercises, refused to invite South Korean reporters to the closure of its nuclear test site and demanded repatriation of North Koreans. Kim Jong-un is hoping Moon and Trump will blame each other for his bad behavior.

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