Pres. Trump Pursuing Right Path with North Korea, Expert Says

y Morgan Montalvo 


A scholar who specializes in watching developments in North Korea says President Trump's strategy for dealing with Kim Jong-Un is the right one when compared to recent previous administrations, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Prof. Bruce Bechtol Jr., an Angelo State University political science professor, tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that Trump's recent predecessors were all quick to abandon negotiations with Pyongyang when no easy solution was forthcoming, and critics of the President's choice for a second round of face-to-face talks with Kim at month's end do not see the big picture.

"Why is that, because the other ways worked so well? Clinton, Bush, you know, Obama? These guys all failed in their North Korea policy. So it's not a Republican or a Democratic thing - it's a failure thing," Bechtol says.

Trump's second meeting with Kim to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is scheduled for Feb 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bechtol says Kim, a third-generation hard-line leader like his father and grandfather, knows how to frustrate the West by entering talks, finding a reason to stall over often minor details, abandon negotiations, and return only when the U.S and its allies ease sanctions and offer humanitarian aid as an incentive to resume dialogue. 

Going into the second round of talks with Trump, Bechtol says, North Korea's playbook is open and easy to decipher.

"If I'm Kim Jong-Un, my goal is to keep things going in the status quo," Bechtol says, "and continue to intimidate, or deal with on a profitable basis, my neighbor to the south."

But under Trump, Bechtol says, Washington has the resolve to also adopt the same "long game" approach to dealing with North Korea. 

"I think President Trump needs to be very patient, keep the sanctions up, and make sure we don't give the North Koreans any real concessions until they show us they are denuclearizing, they are looking after the human rights of their own citizens better, they are beginning to join the list of responsible nation-states," says Bechtol.

Failing a substantive agreement that includes North Korea's abandonment of its atomic and missile programs, and adoption of a less-aggressive posture toward South Korea, Bechtol says the U.S. can impose additional and severe economic pressure on the Kim regime, including sanctions that target North Korea's international trade and currency transfer capabilities.  

The U.S.and North Korea for decades have been negotiating a formal end to the Korean Conflict of 1950-53 and, more recently, ways to end Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile development programs and reverse its abysmal human rights record. 

North Korea and South Korea have also held a separate series of normalization and reunification talks. 

Immediately following World War II the Korean peninsula was partitioned into two counties, communist North Korea and democratic South Korea, at the beginning of the Cold War. North Korea remains one of the world's last communist countries.

PHOTO: Prof. Bruce Bechtol Jr. of Angelo State Univ. says President Trump's strategy of continued negotiations with North Korea is prudent, whether or not Trump succeeds in convincing in the short run his counterpart Kim Jong-Un to abandon his nuclear weapons programs. Bechtol spoke last night on U.S.-North Korean relations at St. Mary's University. Photo courtesy St. Mary's Univ.

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