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North Korea will betray Trump — here’s how the showdown might play out

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With each passing day — and each new shocking revelation — it seems clear that President Donald J. Trump was duped by North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Despite the clear warning signs, despite the fact that North Korea has never kept its word in decades of nuclear negotiations, the Trump administration decided to undertake a strategy that attempted to make Kim Jong Un feel secure, to show him that there was a better path for him and his people if he rid the world of the North’s nuclear weapons program. Among the glitz and glamor of cosmopolitan Singapore, the world hoped Kim would be able to envision a new beginning, ending a threat that could have sparked a nuclear war just last year and which would have killed millions in the process.

{mosads}But clearly it was not to be. It seems North Korea is only speeding up the pace at which it can build more nuclear weapons. Thanks to an incredible new report published Friday by NBC News, it seems the hermit kingdom is increasing the production of fuel for more nuclear weapons. Considering the fact that the North might have as many as 60 nuclear weapons — some of which could be massive hydrogen bombs, like the one tested last September — it seems clear North Korea has no intention of giving up any of its nuclear weapons.


Could we be in for another summer showdown with Pyongyang? I would say it seems now all but certain. Unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can pull of a miracle when he travels to North Korea this week, we should prepare for the worst.

In fact, one could easily see a cycle of events transpiring over the next few weeks, building slowly while most Americans are more worried about their summer vacation plans and the upcoming SCOTUS pick than another nuclear game of chicken with the portly pariah of Pyongyang.

For example, consider this scenario fictional scenario:

Pompeo heads to North Korea, landing on July 4th, ominously on the one-year anniversary of when North Korea first flight tested its ICBM, shocking the world. Kim, in his meeting with Pompeo, declares that the North is willing to give up its atomic arms, but only for the right price. In this deal, America and its allies must give up major concessions first.

And this where things take a turn for the worst, as Kim’s laundry list of up-front concessions makes Pompeo quite concerned that the administration has fallen for another well-laid North Korean trap.

Kim demands a formal peace treaty ending the Korean War, full diplomatic recognition by the international community as recognized nation-state, a non-aggression pact signed by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo — and that is just for starters. All of this must be delivered before the North gives up a single atomic arm.

Over the long-term (and this all must be established by an international agreement, again, before he gives up any nuclear weapons), Kim also wants the removal of all maximum-pressure sanctions as well as a guarantee of at least $250 billion dollars in economic assistance over 10 years to rebuild his nations non-existent infrastructure.

But what does Kim offer in exchange for all of this? Kim will agree to the full removal of all his nuclear weapons and long-range missiles over a 10-year period. However, Kim will keep all of his chemical weapons, biological weapons and missiles that can hit South Korea and Japan. He will also demand a cap in the number of inspectors and outside nuclear experts who can be in the country at any given time. He will certainly not allow unfettered access to the country, demanding to know at least five days in advance where international nuclear teams will inspect and veto power for any inspections.

Pompeo is crushed, but keeps his cool in front of the young dictator. He will try to extract concessions but Kim won’t hear any of it. Kim explains that if America and its allies will not meet his demands he will simply ally closer with China, which is already locked in a nasty trade dispute with Washington and has every reason to support him. Kim also threatens to build a full arsenal of ICBMs — 100 or more if necessary — to ensure he can challenge U.S. missile defenses. Kim claims he wants a new relationship with America, but not at the price of being an American lackey.

Pompeo then heads back to Washington and straight to White House to deliver the bad news. Trump, as you can imagine, is furious. Knowing he has been conned, he takes to Twitter to deliver the bad news to the American people, and, indeed the world:

“It seems little Rocket Man is back to his old tricks. If he won’t keep his word and denuke he will force me to make some tough choices. Let’s hope he is a man of his word!”

Unfortunately for Trump and the world, Kim is ready to call Trump’s bluff. North Korea, within 48 hours of the president’s tweet, decides to flight test three new ICBM designs, all at the same time. But this time, and unlike last year, these missiles do not go hundreds of miles straight up, but head deep into the South Pacific, splashing down 12,000 kms into the ocean. And most worrisome of all, all three missiles delivered warheads that passed through the atmosphere, splashing down into the ocean — and on target — with ease.

That means American cities can now be vaporized by Kim’s nuclear weapons — Washington is truly out of time.

Back to the real world, what happens now? Would Trump ramp up the maximum-pressure campaign or is that effectively over? Would the administration consider military action? Or, would Trump just try to move on to other national security and other domestic challenges, defacto giving up on stopping a nuclear North Korea?

Your crystal ball is as cloudy as mine. But only one thing is certain, the North Korea crisis is not over — not by a long-shot.

Harry J. Kazianis (@grecianformula) is director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, founded in 1994 by President Richard M. Nixon, and executive editor of its publishing arm, The National Interest. He previously worked on the foreign policy team of the 2016 Ted Cruz presidential campaign and as foreign policy communications manager at the Heritage Foundation, editor-in-chief of The Diplomat, and as a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The views voiced in this article are his own.

Tags Kim Jong-un Korea Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo North Korea Nuclear disarmament Nuclear warfare Nuclear weapons South Korea–United States relations Ted Cruz

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