“It is possible Pyongyang will conduct a nuclear or long-range missile test prior to the inauguration or shortly thereafter as a way of laying down a marker with the new president and increasing its negotiating leverage with Washington,” Evans Revere, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former State Department official with extensive experience in negotiations with North Korea, tells TIME.
In many ways, North Korea is more isolated, more desperate and more dangerous than ever. The pressures of crushing international sanctions, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic have worsened living conditions for regular North Koreans. And although President Donald Trump boasted about his friendly relationship with North Korea’s brutal leader and claimed that he had averted a war, experts say his strategy of face-to-face summits led to no real progress toward disarmament.
“The Biden team will be mindful of the failings of Trump’s approach, which has amounted to turning a blind eye to North Korea’s steady accumulation of nuclear weapons and testing of medium-range missiles,” Revere says.