North Korea agreed to stop testing because Kim is getting what he wants. The third inter-Korean summit was not premised on Kim Jong Un offering to disarm. He has never, ever made a concrete promise to abandon his nuclear weapons program. If you read the joint statement closely, what South and North Korea have done is to take disarmament off the table as a concrete outcome and substitute a vague aspiration that at some point nuclear weapons will no longer be necessary.
Until that time, Kim is willing to agree to a much more modest series of steps — a moratorium on launches of intermediate- and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, as well as an end to nuclear testing. Those are good things. We should appreciate them as genuine improvements to U.S. security, not something to tide the United States over until North Korea turns over missiles and nuclear warheads.
Kim is working toward winning a de facto recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power in exchange for his agreement to respect certain limits — an end to certain missile tests and nuclear explosions, an agreement not to export nuclear technology to other states, and perhaps a pledge by North Korea not to use nuclear weapons. To accept this would represent a complete and total retreat from decades of U.S. policy — a retreat that I believe is overdue and the inevitable consequence of North Korea’s development of ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons. We have to learn to accept North Korea as it is. And what North Korea is, is nuclear-armed. [Continue reading…]