US Foreign Policy

Negotiations, Sanctions, and Red Lines with North Korea

In light of the ongoing stalemate in US-DPRK talks and an increase in aggressive rhetoric and shorter-range missile tests from North Korea, Stimson organized a discussion on negotiations, sanctions, and red lines with North Korea.

The discussion opened with an exploration of the differences in negotiating approaches of the United States and North Korea and why, at this time, the United States can’t go back to the maximum pressure campaign or just add more sanctions; what is necessary is a shift in geopolitics and healthy Congressional oversight of the negotiations process. Staffers asked what should be the Administration’s top priorities at the moment, and it was argued that the US needs to rebuild the US-ROK alliance, keep an eye on China’s increasing role throughout Asia, and outline clear red lines for the North Koreans so that there is no room for miscalculation. Staffers also asked what Congress should avoid doing at this time. It was argued that sanctioning tourists would be ineffective and that Congress should be careful not to be too critical of the Trump Administration’s negotiations with North Korea. There were signs that the North Koreans were sincere going into the negotiations and it may still be possible to leverage the personal relationship between Kim Jong Un and Donald J. Trump to move diplomacy forward. Three experts supported this discussion: Jenny Town, Fellow and Managing Editor of 38 North at the Stimson Center, Amb. Joseph DeThomas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation at the U.S. Department of State, and Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a Non-resident Fellow at the Stimson Center and a former Finance and Economics Expert on the DPRK Panel of Experts at the United Nations Security Council.

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