rect U.S.-North Korean talks. A senior State to-face talks will start before the Olympics end; the U.S. will characterize the goal as eventual de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The North may offer a different formula, but Washington probably won’t care so long as the other side shows up. There’s no sign yet that it will, however.
that the conversation with Pyongyang can “start at the edges,” with each country describing how it sees the future, and then “work toward the center,” meaning denuclearization. “The Olympics themselves might be the perimeter” from which talks
Trump argues that his nuclear brinkmanship over the past year has worked. “Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t total ‘might’ against the North,” he tweeted and Moon this week wisely lauded his “huge contribution” to peace talks.
Who has blinked here? It’s hard to argue that it’s Kim. The mutual stand-down for the Olympics looks very much like the “freeze for freeze” approach that Russia and China were recommending last year, although U.S.
For all Trump’s bluster and self-congratulation, the past month’s diplomacy really has been a Korean show, with Kim and Moon both showing considerable nuclear club, but he was also deferential toward Seoul. Moon responded avidly, but he also kept faith with Washington by stressing that diplomacy must eventually encompass denuclearization.
What the Trump administration can take credit for is building a robust international coalition around the demand that North Korea must eventually give up its nuclear weapons. Russia and China have joined in a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea, and this slow squeeze is beginning to hurt. Diplomats report the beginnings of food shortages in North Korea, and China is sending some North Korean workers back home.
Tillerson will meet in Canada next week with diplomats from countries that sent years ago. That gathering is meant to signal global solidarity and resolve. But it will also highlight the failure of the U.S.-led coalition, so far, to stop North Korea from becoming a de-facto nuclear power.
A pause for the Olympics, and then, alas, the crisis resumes.