Speaking on CGTN, Carnegie’s Douglas H. Paal argued that the Trump administration’s approach to the North Korea nuclear issue represents a break from the approach of past administrations. While other presidents were unwilling to combine high-profile public rhetoric with intense private pressure on Beijing to resolve the issue, this appears to be the President Trump’s preferred set of tactics, at least so far.
Paal also explained that, although the administration is committed publicly to total denuclearization, they still have yet to make decisions on important issues like whether the United States is willing to accept a freeze at current levels of nuclear capabilities in return for sanctions relief and other forms of aid.
Paal noted that if the two sides were to enter into a direct negotiation, the North would likely begin by demanding many politically infeasible concessions from the other side. He argued that the United States and its allies should recognize this and put together a feasible counteroffer before the negotiations begin.