White House and State Department officials are reiterating that they have no current interest in making a deal with North Korea that would involve a peace declaration ending the Korean War.
The State Department said on Wednesday that the US position is that “denuclearization has to take place before we get to other parts.” The administration has repeatedly said they believe Korean denuclearization will take years, and that they want “progress” before the 2020 election.
The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later, there has never been a formal peace treaty ending the conflict. North Korea has been seeking a peace treaty for decades, with the US always resisting such a deal.
But the Trump Administration had previously indicated that they were in favor of a peace deal, particularly since South Korea started talking up such a deal themselves. This was a big turnaround at the time, but they have spun on a dime again and once again are showing little interest in peace.
Raising it as at least a possibility, however, has made it more difficult for the Trump Administration to formally say they don’t want peace. Instead, they are trying to condition the start of the process to a long-term goal.
From the North Korean perspective, this is likely to be problematic, as they’ve long doubted US seriousness about the peace process, and had initially conditioned denuclearization on a peace deal. Now, the US envisions getting denuclearization and not accepting peace, which would boil down to North Korea getting nothing in return for giving up its nuclear program, and having nothing left to offer in return for peace, something the US clearly has little interest in in and of itself.