Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was suppose to meet with the foreign minister of North Korea today, but North Korea abruptly called off the talks yesterday for reasons that I find amusing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, North Korea canceled the talks because they want relief from economic sanctions before things go any further.
Neither North Korea nor the U.S. has said why plans for the meeting fell through, but the move was widely seen by Western experts as an attempt by North Korea to pressure Washington to grant some early relief from sanctions.
It also was seen as a message of Pyongyang’s dissatisfaction with Mr. Pompeo’s demand that Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and programs be eliminated before any economic benefits are conferred [...]
North Korea has said it has taken sufficient first steps toward denuclearization by dismantling a missile-launch site and a nuclear testing facility, and halting missile and nuclear-weapons tests. In addition, the regime has returned some U.S. war remains.
Pyongyang has demanded the U.S. lift sanctions in return, stressing that an improvement in bilateral ties must come before it gives any more ground.
Kim leveled an unusually direct criticism of sanctions last week, saying the “vicious” measures stood in the way of the country’s development and that he wouldn’t be forced into “change and submission.”
Still, Pompeo had predicted “real progress” as recently as Sunday. “I’m confident that we’ll advance the ball again this week when I’m in New York City,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
It's true that North Korea has dismantled a couple facilities and halted tests, but analysis of satellite photos token over the past six months tells us they've been upgrading other facilities. We can also infer that North Korea stopped testing because they already did all the testing they needed to do.
They really haven't done anything that warrants lifting economic sanctions, but I still expect Trump will give them what they want.
What we're seeing today has been North Korea's strategy for decades. They will string Trump along for years by holding talks, canceling talks, holding more talks, and moving the goal posts. All that has changed is Americans elected a game show host who was just as eager to be legitimized by Kim Jong-un as Kim was eager to be legitimized by Trump.
Although Trump declared victory earlier this year, I still firmly believe North Korea will have nuclear weapons when Trump leaves office.