Did Trump Get Played By Kim Jong Un?
By: Dejon Virgo
The United States’ foreign policy with North Korea has always been a complicated one since the fall of the Soviet Union. According to Vox, North Korea has been building nuclear weapons because they are no longer protected by the Soviets to stop the U.S from invading their country.
Every U.S president since Bill Clinton has tried to stop North Korea from increasing their nuclear arsenal. Most of them have failed so far because the country is so isolated from the rest of the world, and the Kim dynasty remains strong.
Vox also reported that North Korea looked at how the U.S invaded Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein because they thought the ruler had nuclear weapons. When Muammar Al Gaddafi of Libya gave up his nuclear ambitions, the U.S still overthrew him. Earlier this year the U.S withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
When President Donald Trump entered office his policy towards North Korea was of maximum pressure- he placed crippling sanctions on the country and got China to start cutting off trade with the country.
The strategy seemed to be working when Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met last summer on June 12th, 2018 in Singapore to sign an agreement towards denuclearization.
After the meeting, North Korea sent the remains of U.S soldiers back to the U.S. and destroyed some testing sites. Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
While the Trump administration is claiming victory, what steps has North Korea taken towards denuclearization?
North Korea has been playing the diplomatic card with countries like China, Russia, and South Korea. North and South Korean leaders have been trying to end the war between the two countries.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae have meet multiple times this year. According to VICE News, President Moon has been talking to Kim about creating a new economic map to bring the two countries closer and lift some sanctions.
The report also says that the United Nations and U.S. have accused Russia and China of helping North Korea dodge sanctions. They supposedly did this by refueling North Korean ships offshore in secret.
“Russian corruption is like a virus. It is impeding our ability to achieve complete denuclearization in North Korea,” said former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
According to the Wall Street Journal, North Korea dodges sanctions by trading at sea and disguising their trade ships. They use fake flags, erase ship names, create false ID numbers, and place fake cargo to trick postal helicopters.
North Korea also tries to hide where their ships are going by meeting ships in the middle of the ocean to gain petroleum without entering another country’s port. Two ships have made 148 deliveries to North Korea.
Companies in places like Hong Kong make it difficult to know who controls these ships. The ships are mostly registered in countries that offer flags of convenience; this means a ship’s owners can register their ship under a different country without charge.
Countries like Panama, Togo, and Palau use this service and have come under pressure from the UN to investigate their ship registry and de-flag ships coming from North Korea. Some operators don’t even register the ships and instead fake the paperwork, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Multiple news outlets claim that North Korea has tested a new tactical weapon. CNN and The Guardian reported satellite images that they believe showed a secret missile site in North Korea.
This year Kim made some important moves with new and old allies. He has dodged sanctions and canceled meetings with the U.S. He kept Trump satisfied by giving the remains of fallen soldiers to the U.S.
Trump sees his policy with North Korea as a success so far and says there will be another meeting with Kim next year. The extent of Kim’s efforts to actually denuclearize, however, seems uncertain.