President Trump may be publicly disavowing diplomacy with North Korea several times a week, but North Korean officials are no more interested in getting to the negotiating table, at least for now. Officials with reclusive North Korea’s government say they don’t view this as the right time for diplomacy.
Rather, officials say North Korea’s goal is to first prove that they have a “reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” before getting into direct negotiations.
The rush for deterrence comes amid President Trump’s regular threats to “totally destroy” North Korea, and has been a stated goal for some time. It appears the North Koreans believe that without a deterrent capability, however, that they would be at a disadvantage in any negotiations.
Unfortunately, the opposite view is likely to be taken by the US, if history is any indicated. US officials have long been loathe to engage in diplomacy with “enemies” like the Taliban when those factions are in a survivable position, and the US impulse tends to be to escalate such wars in the hopes of eventually forcing the enemy into a no-win situation and then dictating terms.
Having noted that both Iraq and Libya were attacked by the US after they disarmed, North Korea is in no rush to do so, but it’s not clear that the tiny nation could ever have such a huge retaliatory capability that some US hawks wouldn’t still be pondering a first strike on them.
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