Pyongyang seemingly wants negotiations with the United States, but on its own terms. Analysts speculate that to justify keeping its existing stockpile of several dozen nuclear weapons, North Korea might promise not to share its nuclear technology with others and not to attack the United States. Washington would be wary of such assurances, given Pyongyang’s history of broken promises and proliferation.

North Korea evidently wants to be like India and Pakistan, which became de facto members of the nuclear club after building weapons secretly. It doesn’t want to be like Libya or Iraq, whose leaders were deposed and killed after giving up their nuclear programs.