North Korea appears to be totally caving to Trump before they even meet in person
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be making huge concessions before meeting with President Donald Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
- Kim caving in to US desires could be the result of Trump rallying the world to put pressure on North Korea, or it could be a trick, as North Korea has tricked the US into allowing it sanctions relief before.
- News of Kim caving to US desires doesn't actually come from Kim, but from Moon, who may have an interest in softening North Korea's rhetoric.
- Trump may have actually nailed it and has Kim backed into a corner with sanctions and military pressure.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be making huge concessions before meeting with President Donald Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Moon said on Thursday, after South Korean diplomats held a series of meetings with Kim and his inner circle, that North Korea essentially wants nothing in return for complete denuclearization.
Moon said North Korea wants "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula, something experts usually take to mean a removal of US forces from South Korea in addition to removing North Korea's nuclear weapons.
But Moon said that's not the case.
"I don't think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea. The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization," Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies, according to Reuters.
Even more shocking, North Korea won't ask the US to do much in return for its denuclearization.
"They have not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea," Moon said. "All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security."
Essentially, according to Moon, all North Korea wants is the US to promise it will not attack it and end the sanctions and other forms of overt pressure.
Why that might be too good to be true
KCNA via REUTERS
For North Korea, these statements represent an absolute about-face. North Korea has for decades defended its pursuit of nuclear weapons as a means to deter the US from invasion, or even to destroy it.
North Korea has spent decades criticizing the US for its military presence in South Korea, and routinely complains about military exercises it holds with South Korea, sometimes launching missiles during the events.
Additionally, North Korea has entered into and exited out of denuclearization and peace talks several times in the past, each time leaving the US frustrated after gaining much-needed cash in the form of sanctions relief. None of the many experts contacted by Business Insider doubt that stalling for sanctions relief may be Kim's game this time around, too.
Consider the messenger
With many Korean families divided by the war and the armistice, Moon also faces pressure to reunite both Koreas.
Seoul, South Korea's capital of some 25 million people, also stands to be the hardest-hit city if war struck between the US and North Korea.
While the Trump and Moon maintain their alliance is ironclad and they're committed to peace, Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, has argued extensively in favor of bombing North Korea, and almost never mentions how many South Koreans could die in that attack.
Maybe Trump really did nail it
Although talks with North Korea have failed before, a few things are different this time. North Korea recently announced it had completed its nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile program, which experts assess it can use as a bargaining chip in negotiations. With all tests completed and what North Korea believes is a working missile that can hit the US with a nuclear payload, Kim may now be motivated to talk.
Kim is also younger than his father was when he entered talks with the US, and possibly more open to changing his country. He's already allowed markets and capitalism to creep into the country, and recently allowed South Korean pop bands to play a show, which he reportedly loved.
Today, North Korea is under greater sanctions pressure than ever before. Andrea Berger, an expert on North Korean sanctions at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told Business Insider that it's now virtually impossible to do any business with North Korea that doesn't violate international sanctions. Fuel prices are way up in the country, and reports of the people becoming disenchanted with their strict leadership roll in frequently.
Perhaps above all, North Korea has never faced a US president that spoke so candidly, and so often, about bombing it. In a way none of his predecessors before him have done, Trump has made North Korea a top priority and portrayed a leader willing to go to the insane length of nuclear war to disarm North Korea.
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