North Korea’s About-Face? It’s a Return to Form.


Kim Jong-un of North Korea is scheduled to meet with President Trump in Singapore on June 12. But a statement on Wednesday from the North cast doubt on whether the talks would occur.Credit Korea Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Yes, even dictators get cold feet.

Wednesday’s news that North Korea was considering calling off Kim Jong-un’s planned June meeting with President Trump reflected a pattern by the unpredictable regime: diplomatic outreach, followed by erratic behavior and, in many cases, an outright rejection of peace overtures.

Here’s a look at some other times when the North did a sudden about-face:

Dashed hopes at six-party talks

North Korea’s About-Face? It’s a Return to Form.
North Korea’s About-Face? It’s a Return to Form.

After its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, North Korea agreed to take part in six-party talks with the United States and regional powers, and pledged in 2005 to “abandon nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.” But the following year it conducted its first nuclear test.

By 2009, after months of provocative behavior, Pyongyang said it would permanently pull out of nuclear disarmament talks and restart its nuclear program, and it expelled United Nations inspectors from the country.

Spurning outreach from Washington

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush declared North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, part of an “axis of evil,” but toward the end of his term his advisers softened that approach.

In 2008, Washington dropped North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and agreed to send the North economic aid in return for Pyongyang disclosing and disabling its nuclear facilities. But by December that agreement had collapsed, after North Korea refused to allow for a system of verifying its compliance with the deal.

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