Source: Doug Bandow

Four years ago, President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un were preparing for their first summit. Trump had dropped his “fire and fury” campaign and Kim had suspended intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear tests. Although skeptics filled the ranks of Washington’s established Korea analysts, for the first time in decades there was a sense of possibility about the bilateral relationship.

The ensuing détente ended the following year with the failure of the Hanoi summit, though Kim maintained his testing moratorium. Last year, he indicated that Pyongyang was planning on ending its forbearance; in January, he unleashed a flurry of short-range launches, capped by a test of long-range missile components. Last month Pyongyang deployed its first ICBM in five years, though the regime apparently misrepresented the missile that was launched. And there is activity at the North’s nuclear site, suggesting a test there is imminent.

TRENDING: Nuclear War Is on the Horizon

Speculation has focused on Kim desiring to force newly elected President Joe Biden to the negotiating table. That was the old model, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) greeting every new U.S. administration with a reminder that Pyongyang was waiting for concessions. However, few Washington analysts believe that the DPRK is willing to abandon its nuclear capability, irrespective of any promised benefits for doing so.

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