What if North Korea Makes an Offer Trump Can’t Refuse?

    Doug Bandow

    Security, Asia

    The North’s latest eruption simply reinforces this point. Is the administration ready for an offer which it can’t refuse?

    North Korea has just reminded the United States that it is intent on negotiating with the United States, not accepting an administration diktat, especially one explicitly modeled after the Libya deal, which ultimately ended in the gruesome death of Muammar el-Qaddafi, who agreed to its terms.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Pyongyang again and made Kim Jong-un an offer he hoped the North Korean supreme leader could not reject: abandon nuclear weapons and the North can “have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.” But the Trump administration should be careful what it asks for. What if Kim said, “Yes, here are my nukes. Now where are my benefits?”

    The summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is set but suddenly in doubt. Secretary Pompeo went to Pyongyang to finalize the details and bring home three imprisoned Americans. While there he made a pitch for North Korean disarmament. It sounded like a good deal, probably like the similar pitch to Qaddafi sounded in 2003.

    Although most Korea-watchers expected an ever-so polite no from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, however disguised, at the summit rather than ahead of time, the most challenging answer would be a fulsome yes.

    No one outside of Pyongyang knows the extent of North Korea’s nuclear program. Estimates of the number of weapons range from fifteen to sixty. Nor do American officials know where the weapons are located.

    The so-called Children’s Palace is a venue for a variety of kid’s activities, and a must-stop spot for foreign visitors. I was taken there on both of my trips to North Korea, most recently last June. Dominating the building’s large open area is a model missile. At least, I assumed it was a model. The North might be hiding its weapons in plain view. How better to fool the Americans?

    After the summit’s usual opening pleasantries have been exchanged, imagine Kim announcing that he sees no reason why two decisive men of action cannot quickly reach an agreement. To demonstrate his commitment to good relations with America he already released three U.S. citizens even though they had violated North Korean law. To further prove his good faith, he explains, at that very moment four North Korean nukes are on trucks just north of Panmunjom, ready for America to take if a deal is reached.

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