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Old May 11th, 2018, 06:43 PM   #1
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Obituary: The Maximum Pressure Policy

Welp, things look differently depending on the POV....

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Obituary: The Maximum Pressure Policy

A family spokesman confirmed today that the maximum pressure policy passed away on April 27, 2018. This was not noticed at the time since it was still walking around in policy circles in Washington, but physicians later determined that the policy lost all ability to affect the outside world sometime between the moment that Kim Jong Un trod on the red carpet in Beijing and the second he crossed the line into the ROK sector in Panmunjom.

The policy is expected to enjoy some form of zombie existence at least until the upcoming summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, but all medical experts expect its corporeal form will crumble into dust quickly if the US attempts to make use of it.

The policy, born in March 2017, lived a short but productive life. Friends and relatives celebrated its contribution to the recent thaw in relations between the DPRK and the ROK and expressed the hope that all parties could proceed with the crafting of a framework for peace and denuclearization now that any credible threat of economic or military pressure on North Korea has been removed.

...Since Kim Jong Un initiated his peace offensive on January 1, the military threat’s source of life for the maximum pressure policy has been completely degraded. The ROK refusal to aid North Korea is likely just weeks away from compromise or collapse (if it has not happened already), and it is likely that April’s trade statistics for DPRK exports to China will look very different from the near-embargo that the January and February statistics indicated.

Even more important, there will no longer be any stomach in either Seoul or Beijing to tighten sanctions (much less go to war) if the Trump administration determines at the Trump-Kim summit that the DPRK is not serious about denuclearization in the way the White House defines that term. Given the sense of euphoria in the ROK over the Panmunjom Summit, any attempt to get tougher with North Korea will produce a violently negative reaction from the South Korean public and political class as long as Kim continues his skillful reengineering of his image with South Korea and does not turn on Moon.

Kim Jong Un has to be given a great deal of credit for tactical diplomatic acumen. He began 2018 totally isolated and under severe economic and military pressure. He had no reason to believe any of the main participants would relent in sanctions pressure and he had reason to fear that they would lament but do nothing to halt any ill-conceived US military action. In five short months, he has totally reversed the diplomatic momentum of the situation. While he is still under sanctions pressure, he has eliminated any hope the US could resort to military action and maintain its alliance with the ROK. He has likely shifted China’s position back to its more traditional semi-supportive approach to the DPRK, especially as long as Kim refrains from further provocations, and he has isolated President Trump should the President wish to return to a policy of maximum pressure.

Kim did this through very slick public diplomacy in which he shifted his image from that of a comic book villain to that of a normal and quite approachable statesman. At the same time, he made himself the center of the diplomatic geometry of the Korean Peninsula. He began the year as the target of diplomacy. He has emerged this spring as its prime mover by dealing with each of his opponents bilaterally—offering them what they wanted in isolation from the others and by leaving Donald Trump until last, with Japanese Prime Minister Abe still on the sidelines, ignored by all actors.

Barring a catastrophic error by Kim, what he has created with his first summits makes it impossible to return to the maximum pressure policy. Sanctions are inevitably going to erode through looser Chinese enforcement and a ROK desire to jump start cooperation.

This does not mean Kim might not be interested in some nuclear and missile arrangement with President Trump. Perhaps maximum pressure has done its job and helped persuade Kim to move to his new strategic line. But it does mean there is not going to be any easy return to what existed before the January 1 speech. This is somewhat regrettable from the perspective of a tactical US diplomatic advantage, but it is probably not retrievable. The Trump administration probably should be considering how to extract the maximum diplomatic benefits from sanctions now before their impact erodes.
https://www.38north.org/2018/05/jdethomas050918/
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Old May 14th, 2018, 04:14 PM   #2
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Here's an analysis of the problem from the Axios World Newsletter:

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President Trump has laid out what a successful outcome from his talks with North Korea looks like: "They get rid of their nukes." North Korea may well make such a promise, but experts told Axios' Shannon Vavra it'll be desperately tricky to determine whether they're keeping it.
James Acton, a physicist and verification expert: "It is going to be emphatically impossible to conclude definitively that North Korea has given up all of its nuclear material. The big challenge is not verifying the dismantlement of those they tell us” about, “it’s verifying that they haven’t maintained materials secretly.”

Jon Wolfsthal, a former senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on Barack Obama's National Security Council says U.S. intelligence gaps on North Korea’s nuclear program exacerbate the problem: “There’s no way Donald Trump comes out verifying all their nuclear weapons” because “we don’t even know how many we have” to begin with.

Corey Hinderstein, a former senior coordinator for nuclear security and nonproliferation policy affairs at the Department of Energy says inspections in North Korea, which is already a nuclear power, are far different than in Iran: "We have never verified the dismantlement of nuclear warheads at the time they’re being dismantled."
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Old May 14th, 2018, 05:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by RNG View Post
Here's an analysis of the problem from the Axios World Newsletter:
The OP article portrays Trump as a chump at best and an accomplice at worst.
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