North Korea has failed to follow through on commitments it made to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
This should trigger punishments, but the consequence for dictator Kim Jong Un is to be another meeting with President Donald Trump, says national security adviser John Bolton.
Why give this win to the tyrant Kim? Meeting with the president of the United States as an equal is a major victory for a man who is, essentially, the commandant of a concentration camp armed with nukes. The Trump administration is rewarding Kim’s bad behavior.
You don’t have to know that Pyongyang has a history of going back on agreements and playing negotiators for fools to know that this is a losing strategy. Rewarding bad behavior encourages more of the same. You pay for something, you’re likely to get more of it. High-profile, high-prestige meetings are Danegeld for Kim.
More of the same from Korea poses serious risks. Even as Kim talks about denuclearization, satellite images reveal that he is concealing his stockpiles of warheads rather than giving them up. The North Korean nuclear program continues apace. Meanwhile, diplomatic talks between Washington and Pyongyang have yielded little. Meetings have been canceled, and negotiations are breaking down.
Back in August, Bolton was right when he explained, “What we really need is not more rhetoric. What we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearization.”
But on Tuesday, speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, he took a different tone after again acknowledging that “they have not lived up to the commitments so far.”
Instead of demanding action from North Korea, Bolton said, “That’s why I think the president thinks that another summit is likely to be productive.”