By Seima Oki in Washington
The U.S. Trump administration has begun to study possible quid pro quos if North Korea takes “concrete actions” toward denuclearization.
According to a source on Japan-U.S. relations, President Donald Trump is expected to discuss a road map for denuclearization, including rewards for North Korea, during his summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to be held in Florida on April 17-18.
In light of past experience with North Korea’s taking advantage only of the rewards but resuming its development of nuclear arms, the Trump administration has stated repeatedly that, “Maximum pressure will be sustained until North Korea takes verifiable concrete actions toward putting an end to its nuclear programs,” (in the words of Vice President Mike Pence). Trump himself stated on March 28: “Maximum sanctions and pressure must continue for now.”
However, a diplomatic source in Washington points out that, “The Trump administration understands that if North Korea alone is made to take denuclearization steps, this process may suffer a setback along the way.”
A number of ideas have been proposed for the U.S. government’s rewards, including: 1) easing the U.S. government’s unilateral sanctions, such as lifting the travel ban to North Korea; 2) scaling down military exercises; 3) establishing a communication mechanism between the armed forces of both countries; and 4) expanding humanitarian aid to North Korea.
It appears that the rewards being considered will mostly concern U.S. unilateral sanctions, in order to avoid violating UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea sanctions.
It is widely believed that the approval and timing of the rewards will be “solely at President Trump’s discretion,” according to the above diplomatic source. (Abridged)