Take this for what it’s worth:
North Korea has confirmed directly to the Trump administration that it is willing to negotiate with the United States over potential denuclearization, administration officials said Sunday.
The confirmation offers the administration greater assurances that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is committed to a potential meeting with President Trump by the end of next month.
“The U.S. has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” an administration official said.
South Korean emissaries, in a visit to the White House last month, had presented Kim’s invitation to meet with Trump, who quickly agreed.
But Pyongyang has been silent publicly since then about a summit, even as Kim visited Beijing earlier this month in his first visit outside North Korea since assuming control of the country after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in 2011. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that the North has confirmed the offer to the United States.
Here are my stray thoughts on the subject.
The fact that Pyongyang is not saying anything about the summit is encouraging. My initial inclination when the offer to meet was made via the South Koreans was that this was going to be a set up where Kim would look like he was talking and then play the role of Lucy holding the football. Because Kim in not talking about this at home gives hope that he’s considering a deal of some type.
We don’t understand what he means by “denuclearization.” That offer has been made in the past but always in the context of the North giving up their nukes if the US agrees to leave the ROK and stop military exercises and arms sales to the ROK. That, obviously, is not really an offer. But the fact that the offer is being made as the FOAL EAGLE exercise hits its stride and an unheard of moratorium on missile launches by North Korea makes this offer seem more credible.
One can’t help but note that all the usual Korean experts that hew to the Trump-in-an-idiot line, which is most of them, are silent. That is an indicator of the significance of the offer.
We know North Korea is feeling the bite of a sanctions regime that, for the first in perhaps history, is being rigorously enforced. Trade with China is at a near halt. North Korea will run out of hard currency reserves around October. This will bring pain on the inner circle that Kim needs to keep happy in order to survive.
I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t even pretend to have one, but there is a strong indication here that Kim is angling for the survival of his regime. If he can do that without nukes…and without some sanctions…he may be willing to make the trade.
Check back with me in 10 weeks. https://t.co/b4lBDGf3ub
— Joshua Stanton (@freekorea_us) April 8, 2018