North Korea's new direction: Bona fide or bluff?

What will be the impact of Pyongyang's new outreach to its old adversaries?


Tuesday, May 15, 15:00 UK / 10:00 EDT

War on the Korean peninsula became a plausible scenario late last year, after Pyongyang demonstrated that it had, or was very close to, the ability to strike the continental United States with a nuclear warhead. Then, this January, supreme leader Kim Jong-un announced an abrupt change of direction, which led in April to the first inter-Korean summit in nearly a decade. Kim has pledged concrete measures to de-escalate military tensions and revive economic cooperation with the South. He has also announced a wish to 'denuclearise' the Korean peninsula. This topic will top the agenda when Kim meets Donald Trump later this month or early next, in what will be the first ever summit between a US and North Korean leader.

  • Is North Korea serious about peace, or is this yet another ploy?
  • What are the prospects for denuclearisation? Would Trump settle for less?
  • Does the Kim-Trump summit create new risks? Might Trump conclude, if he returns empty-handed, that peace has been given a chance and failed?
  • What economic opportunities could arise if sanctions are eased? Could North Korea become 'another Myanmar', or 'another Iran'?
  • What are the implications for US-China relations if the Korean peninsula ceases to be a flashpoint?
  • Has Pyongyang's reverse course vindicated Trump's strategy of 'maximum pressure'? What are the consequences for future US policy if it has?

 

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