resident Donald J. Trump, joined by Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un, makes history Sunday, June 30, 2019, as he becomes the first sitting U.S. President to step foot on North Korean soil, in his meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
We may be in for a very turbulent year of nuclear diplomacy with North Korea
Since 2018, North Korea has had a self-imposed moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons and long range missiles, like the kind that could reach the United States. The moratorium stems from the diplomatic opening between the United States and North Korea which culminated in three meetings between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. However, even as North Korea has paused its long range missile and nuclear testing, it has continued other tests to advance its nuclear weapons program.
At the very end of 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered remarks in a New Year’s speech that suggest what this self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and missile testing was over — and on top of that, that North Korea has a powerful new weapon in its arsenal.
So what does this all mean for nuclear diplomacy with North Korea and the prospect of more provocations, or even outright conflict?
On the line with me to discuss where we are headed with North Korea is Dr. Jeffrey Lewis. He is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterrey. He is a longtime nuclear security expert and and North Korea watcher. We kick off discussing the impact, if any, of the US killing of Iranian general Qassam Soulemani on North Korea’s strategic thinking before having a longer conversation about North Korea’s nuclear program and the prospects for diplomacy in 2020.
Also, last time Jeffrey Lewis was on the show we discussed his book, published in 2018, which is a novel that presents a very plausible scenario for a nuclear exchange between North Korea and the United States that takes place in 2020. So, naturally, we ended this conversation discussing the likelihood of whether or not the events he describes in his book may transpire.