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How energy could play a role in North Korea denuclearization talks

Coal Power Station, June 12, 2018, Pyongyang, North Korea.
A coal power station in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: Ayaka/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The June 12 summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un offered little visibility on the path ahead for U.S.–North Korea relations. But behind the scenes, particularly in South Korea, there is great interest in using energy as a key incentive to nudge Pyongyang toward further concessions.

The big picture: The U.S. already has an active energy dialogue with South Korea, with imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas and crude growing dramatically. For North Korea, which has only minimal refining capacity and lacks domestic fossil fuel production, U.S. gasoline, diesel and propane would be an attractive asset.