New Signs that the North Korea Denuclearization Process is Collapsing

Last week, President Trump cancelled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned visit to North Korea. Why? According to Washington Post, the North Koreans had sent an angry and berating letter to the diplomat, presumably over Pompeo’s (not overly shocking) insistence that Pyongyang take concrete steps to reduce its nuclear arsenal. The letter singles out one grievance in particular: “the US is still not ready to meet [North Korean] expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty.”

The Pompeo episode is obviously a bad omen for the denuclearization process, but it’s telling that the North Koreans are beginning to hone in on the possibility of a peace treaty as another low-hanging-fruit concession that could be attained without substantial denuclearization, much like they secured a presidential-level summit and a suspension of annual military exercises with South Korea earlier this year. They will probably be disappointed in the end though, as the US administration seems to be wising up to North Korea’s old diplomatic act.