Are U.S.-North Korea Nuclear Negotiations Dead?

David Axe

Efforts by the United States and North Korea to revive denuclearization talks appear to be going nowhere fast.

After three high-profile but largely substance-free meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, negotiators from both countries are struggling to define the terms of continued talks regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program.

Since testing its first nuclear device in 2006, North Korea steadily has built up an arsenal of potentially dozens of nuclear warheads plus rockets to deliver them. Pyongyang in 2017 successfully tested a missile with intercontinental range, lending urgency to U.S. efforts to impose limits on North Korea’s nukes.

The latest hiccup came on Oct. 4 and 5, 2019, when negotiators met for the first time since March 2019. The meeting in Stockholm quickly fell apart as both sides refused to budge from their respective stances on the economic sanctions hamstringing North Korea’s economy.

As a result, “the prospects for further negotiations remain unclear,” explained Julia Masterson and Kelsey Davenport from the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association. ”Pyongyang continues to reiterate that the Trump administration must change its position for the process to continue.”

After the abrupt end to the Hanoi summit in February [2019], North Korea blamed Washington’s approach to negotiations and refusal to consider sanctions relief early in the process for the failure, whereas the Trump administration said North Korea’s own proposal at Hanoi was imbalanced.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un said in April 2019 that the United States must change its position and agree to an approach that is beneficial to both sides before the end of the year or the “prospects for solving a problem will be bleak and very dangerous.”

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