His special envoy makes clear the administration’s priority is depriving the regime of nuclear weapons.
Before President Trump announced in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that he would hold another summit this month with Kim Jong Un, he indulged in a bit of braggadocio: “If I had not been elected president of the United States,” he said, “we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.”
That may sound strange coming from a president whose engagement with North Korea began with insults and threats, with Messrs. Kim and Trump calling each other “dotard” and “Little Rocket Man.” But Mr. Trump’s alternative history aside, his administration has indeed pursued serious diplomacy with North Korea, taking a novel approach that will shape the bilateral relationship far into the future.
The new tack was made clear in a detailed speech given at Stanford last week by Stephen E. Biegun, the U.S. special envoy to North Korea. Mr. Biegun firmly reiterated the administration’s objective: “the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.” Of course that’s easier stated than accomplished, but the administration has set a standard, and has exposed itself to harsh criticism if it tries to deliver anything less. Continue reading