North Korea’s first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile came at an odd time.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced the feat Tuesday, just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Washington, where discussions on how to stop the Hermit Kingdon’s nuclear program were at the top of the agenda.
Neither the United States nor South Korea has a proven strategy. But even if the two countries can agree on a way forward, an even more daunting step may lie ahead: direct negotiations with the North Koreans.
When Ambassador Mitchell Reiss served as leader negotiator during the Clinton administration, he learned just how hard talking to Pyongyang can be. According to him, the U.S. should explore strategies other than diplomacy — like denying the country the money and technology necessary for a nuclear program.
“They often ascribe different meanings to the same word. So you go from concept, to word, to meaning,” he said. “That takes an awfully long time.”
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