The pressure is on Kim Jong Un after failure in Hanoi

Should Trump lose his re-election bid, Kim’s prospect of normalizing relations with the United States will dim considerably, as prominent Democrats have been skeptical of the attempts by Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to create a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula. In a meeting with South Korean legislators in February, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi openly expressed skepticism over the peace process, saying Pyongyang’s goal was not to denuclearize, but to weaken South Korea’s military preparedness.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, normally a liberal stalwart, said a peace agreement with North Korea would be a “catastrophe” unless North Korea essentially denuclearizes in full. While Moon may again step in to play the mediator role (as Trump asked him to do post-summit,) South Korean officials whom I have spoken to have been privately expressing frustrations that North Korea has not been doing enough to move the diplomacy forward.

To be sure, although the window of opportunity for Kim might be closing rapidly, it is still open. In the press conference, both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States and North Korea made progress, and they were hopeful for a further discussion. Trump also indicated the United States would not increase sanctions, essentially maintaining the status quo of freeze-for-freeze: The United States will not sanction further and keep the joint military drills with South Korea scaled back (as agreed to in the Singapore summit in June 2018,) and North Korea will not test nuclear weapons or missiles.

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