The only way to get the result America wants in negotiations with North Korea is to get a nuclear force in place in South Korea and trade it away in exchange for the North’s own nuclear arsenal.
The only way to get the result America wants in negotiations with North Korea is to get a nuclear force in place in South Korea and trade it away in exchange for the North’s nuclear arsenal. The United States made a terrible mistake to pull its nuclear weapons out of South Korea in 1991, but today it has a chance to rectify that error. By now North Korea has made it clear that it is demanding more than money to give up its nuclear program—it wants a strategic trade-off. Such demands are what led to the summit getting temporarily called off in the first place. North Korea reiterated its own definition of “denuclearization”, in which America must withdraw its troops and its nuclear umbrella over the South in return for the North giving up its nuclear weapons.
But America can’t afford to do that. It would verge on deeding South Korea over to the North and would further endanger Japan and the peace of the region. Like most unrealistic things proposed in the name of peace, it would be a disaster for the peace of the world.
The drastic fluctuations in the diplomacy of recent weeks have made apparent an underlying weakness in the U.S. negotiating position. America’s distant and extended deterrence posture has left Washington without spare strategic nuclear chips on the ground to trade off in return for the strategic nuclear chips from the other side. The U.S. needs to create spare strategic chips that can be bargained away. America is late to realize this but better late than never. Otherwise, if America fails to do this, the negotiations are doomed.