North Korea’s offer to suspend nuclear and missile tests in exchange for talks with the U.S. reflects an emerging truth about President Donald Trump’s unconventional foreign policy style: It may heighten the risk of conflict, but also the potential for breakthroughs.
As Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday: “the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction.”
Few diplomats or analysts believe that Kim Jong Un’s offer, relayed by South Korea, will in fact deliver a denuclearized Korean peninsula in exchange for the U.S. security guarantees suggested as a basis for talks.
The Kim dynasty has a history of dangling the prospect of a negotiated settlement on its nuclear arsenal, and then walking away after getting concessions. It has also made enormous human and financial sacrifices to build its arsenal and accused the U.S. of failing to uphold prior agreements.
The U.S., in turn, has run hot and cold from one administration to the next on the value of pursuing diplomacy with Pyongyang. Neither side has budged from long-stated preconditions for talks to happen.