In the aftermath of the failed Hanoi summit between the US and North Korea, US President Donald Trump has reportedly taken the helm in denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang. Meanwhile, Seoul now sees the ball as having landed in its court to convince its neighbor to give up its weapons and rocket programs.
According to Trump administration officials who spoke with Time for a Monday article, the US president is “sidelining” his special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, and “dismissing the warnings of top intelligence and foreign policy advisers” who dissent from his continued policy of negotiation with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Although Security Council sanctions clearly exempt humanitarian activities, life-saving programs continue to face serious challenges and delays,” Tapan Mishra, the UN’s resident coordinator in the DPRK lamented earlier this month. “While unintended consequences of sanctions persist, these delays have a real and tangible impact on the aid that we are able to provide to people who desperately need it.
US and other international sanctions bar many useful medical items from being imported by DPRK, too. For example, a paper published last December by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey looked at scientific projects in which North Korean scientists had partnered with scholars from other countries, noting that roughly 100 of the 1,300 they examined had “identifiable significance for dual-use technology, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or other military purposes.”
Time reports that Trump administration officials fear the US president might try and strike a deal with Pyongyang and lift some sanctions in exchange for a pledge to continue their freeze on weapons development and testing, which Trump has said he considers to be more important to maintain than the total removal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems from North Korean possession. However at the same time, it seems to be the consensus among administration officials that any such deal wouldn’t actually make progress at all, only “remove much of the leverage” on the DPRK that they believe compels the country to negotiate in the first place.