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News Analysis: Trump’s Negotiating Playbook Faced Test in North Korea

“He will be safe, he will be happy, his country will be rich,” Mr. Trump said of the North Korean leader on Tuesday, as he met again with Moon Jae-in, the over-optimistic South Korean president whose national security adviser predicted, that same day, it was “99.9 percent” sure that the summit meeting in Singapore would go ahead.

But it was already becoming clear to Mr. Trump and his team that the techniques involved in negotiating real estate do not translate easily into negotiations over nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kim needs money, investment and technology, for sure. But more than that, he needs to convince North Korea’s elites that he has not traded away the only form of security in his sole control — the nuclear patrimony of his father and his grandfather.

News Analysis: Trump’s Negotiating Playbook Faced Test in North Korea
News Analysis: Trump’s Negotiating Playbook Faced Test in North Korea

“For them, ‘getting rich’ is a secondary consideration,” said William Perry, the former secretary of defense and one of the last people to negotiate with the North over peace treaties, nuclear disarmament and missiles — in 1999, when he was sent out as President Bill Clinton’s special envoy. “If I learned anything dealing with them, it’s that their security is pre-eminent. They know we have the capability to defeat them, and they believe we have the intent to do so.”

“And the only way to address that,” Mr. Perry, now 90, said this week in Palo Alto, Calif., as the North Koreans were issuing their latest threats, “is with a step-by-step process, exactly the approach Trump said he did not want to take.”

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