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Trump’s nuclear focus misses Kim Jong Un’s real leverage

10 1 0
24.05.2018

Kim Jong Un has decided to show Donald Trump that the White House hasn’t cornered the market on drama, much less the Nobel Prize for bringing the two Koreas peace in their time. As the leader of a regime known for its bombast and abrupt about-faces, Kim’s threat to cancel their meeting in Singapore next month is par for the course in dealing with Pyongyang. But Kim also is sending a message: their agenda needs to go beyond his nuclear weapons and missiles.

What Kim is after isn’t a secret. Pyongyang has long said its nuclear weapons aim at deterring a U.S. attack on North Korea. It would be wise to take Kim at his word. While Trump has said that eliminating the North Korean bomb and missile programs is the summit’s sine qua non, Pyongyang made plain this month that it has other goals, backhanding the idea of trading its nuclear arsenal for an end to economic sanctions or access to Western investment.

For now, the U.S.-North Korea summit is still on the schedule. “We’re moving along and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said Tuesday. “If it doesn’t happen [in June], maybe it will happen later.” Speaking at a media briefing ahead of his meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in at the White House, the U.S. president again stressed that denuclearization “must take place.” “I have very strong opinions on the subject,” he said.

However, Trump’s focus on nuclear weapons – and his seeming willingness to put U.S. forces on the negotiating table – is missing the North’s real leverage: hundreds of thousands of soldiers and........

© Japan Today