There is a reason why previous US presidents failed to negotiate with North Korea leader and it might happen to Trump.

North Korean nuclear missile
North Korea ICBM that could carry a nuclear warhead. Photo: Vincent Yu, AP

(— May 13, 2018) — US President Donald Trump will meet Kim Jong-Un on June 12 in Singapore, but analysts warn that it is too early to celebrate because the North Korean leader is setting up a trap that could prolong the negotiations, Politico reports.

The new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completed his second visit to Pyongyang, where he returned from with three of the captured US citizens, and set up a two-year summit agenda. According to Politico, when considering the release of prisoners and other concessions made by North Korea before the meeting, the impression is that the Kim Jong-Un is ready to give up nuclear weapons in exchange for US security guarantees.

Politico analyzes, however, that Kim will try to reduce sanctions and cause a divide between the US and South Korea. North Korea has repeatedly said that it will not try to acquire nuclear weapons. In 2005 it received guarantees from the United States that the two countries respect the sovereignty of each other and can live together in peace. Yet, North Korea began to test nuclear weapons and was prepared to face economic isolation with no regrets.

According to the article in Politico, in order to resist Kim’s diplomacy, Trump should follow four lessons from previous negotiations with North Korea, Libya and Iran.

1. Be prepared to leave negotiations at any time

The previous three US presidents have repeatedly discussed nuclear ambitions with North Korea. The newspaper says Kim’s family played the US by insisting on long negotiations.

If Pyongyang refuses fast, complete and irreversible denuclearization, Trump should return to Washington and continue with the maximum pressure campaign on the North Korean economy.

2. A nuclear-only agreement does not solve long-term strategic issues

Trump rejected an Iranian nuclear deal mainly because it focuses solely on a nuclear issue. “Policy” states that an agreement with North Korea that would focus only on the country’s nuclear program would have to include the military threat of Pyongyang, including missile forces, and chemical and biological weapons.

Trump should also pay attention to cyber activities, the paper says.

3. Insist on the Libyan model of denuclearization

The newspaper says Kim Jong Un will probably go ahead with Kim Jong Il’s plan, and attempt to  extend negotiations. This would allow North Korea to continue its nuclear program and wait for 2020 when it returns to the US election rally.

Therefore, America should insist on the Libyan model of denuclearization – “complete, total, and almost instantaneous”. Pyongyang would probably seek significant concessions from the United States, but another reason for the strong push of such a scenario is that Iran is overseeing the negotiations. Tehran will be aware of every precedent with Kim. Also, giving that US withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal breaking the essence of the agreement, it sends a clear message that what Trump‘s administration agrees to could change after the US elections scheduled for 3. November 2020.  

4. Do not release pressure as a sign of good will prior to the agreement

The two previous US presidents introduced milder sanctions before they had results in agreement. In 2007, George W. Bush removed Pyongyang from a list of sponsors of terrorism, and in return did not get anything, while Barack Obama relaxed measures over Iran in 2015.

According to Politico, Trump should keep sanctions as long as Kim does not implement measures towards denuclearization.

The meeting between Kim and Trump is an accomplishment in itself, but it could easily collapse, the paper says. The bargain takes precedence over the power of America, and if Kim opposes, he should use all the power of economic and military pressure.