Experts: Biden Thought Likely to Reverse Trump’s North Korea Policies 

The Biden administration is likely to reverse the Trump administration’s North Korea policies, but experts see little hope for significant progress toward denuclearization in the face of Pyongyang’s determination to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.   As the new Biden administration gears up to formulate policies toward North Korea, experts think the administration will probably return to the incremental approach to denuclearization that was the norm before former President Donald Trump’s term in office.The U.S. traditionally favored a step-by-step approach where Washington would grant series of small concessions or rewards such as sanctions relief or economic incentives as Pyongyang takes small steps along the trajectory of long-term denuclearization.This picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, Jan. 9, 2021, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking at the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in Pyongyang.“I think the Biden administration is likely to seek [the] incremental dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for incremental sanctions relief,” said Gary Samore, who served as the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration.“As we saw at the Hanoi summit, Kim Jong Un is not willing to accept a big deal for complete denuclearization in exchange for complete sanctions relief,” said Samore, referring to North Korea’s leader.At the Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Jan. 13, 2021.Denuclearization affirmedAfter President Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20, he affirmed the need for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during his call with This picture taken on Jan. 14, 2021 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows what appears to be submarine-launched ballistic missiles during a military parade.Quoting Kim’s remarks during the Evans Revere, former U.S. Deputy Ambassador for East Asian Affairs, speaks to the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and a North Korean delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, at The Korea Society in New York, March 10, 2012.Working-level talksDespite its unwillingness to denuclearize, Revere said, North Korea will negotiate with the U.S.“North Korea is ready for a negotiation, but it will not be about denuclearization,” said Revere.He added that Pyongyang’s negotiation aim is to persuade the Biden administration to accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons power and enter into arms control talks that could slow down its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.Otherwise, Revere said, Pyongyang is likely to tell Washington it intends to continue down the path of becoming a more capable nuclear weapons state.The Biden administration is likely to engage North Korea, “in principle,” at the working-level, at the senior, or at special envoy level, according to Revere.Scott Snyder, director of the U.S.-Korea policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, also thinks the Biden administration will engage North Korea through working-level talks before holding any summits.“The Trump administration also sought working-level talks as a complement to top-down diplomacy, but I believe the Biden administration desires to reverse the order and wants to make progress in working-level talks in order to justify summitry,” said Snyder.Trump preferred a top-down approach toward diplomacy where he prioritized meeting with Kim during two summits starting in June 2018 in Singapore rather than letting working-level talks lead up to summits.Criticizing Trump’s top-down approach, People watch from their vehicles as President Donald Trump, on left of video screen, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a Presidential Debate Watch Party in San Francisco, Oct. 22, 2020.Seeking Chinese cooperation on sanctionsBiden also said during the debate he would maintain pressure on China to hold North Korea in check.FILE – An American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017.Relations between Washington and Beijing became increasingly tense during the last year of the Trump presidency. The Trump administration took a FILE – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 24, 2020.Return to human rightsIn respect to North Korea’s human rights violations, Bruce Klingner, a senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said, “The Biden administration should return human rights to its North Korea policy and fill the North Korean human rights coordinator position that Trump left vacant.”On Saturday, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, headed by Michelle Bachelet, issued a report urging the international community to refer North Koreans who are responsible for what it called crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc tribunal for possible trials.  

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