WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has a better chance of getting a nuclear deal with North Korea than with Iran because North Korea wants to talk, but solidifying an agreement will require another meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, an international security expert said Tuesday.
Robert Litwak, author of the new book “Nuclear Crises with North Korea and Iran,” said North Korea, a country that has no oil, values its nuclear weapons as essential to “regime survival” and “their bargaining chip” to negotiate with the U.S. and South Korea. For Iran, it’s about “uranium” and “lifting all sanctions” in oil revenue and frozen assets, he said.
David Sanger, a national security correspondent at The New York Times, said another difference between Iran and North Korea is that North Korea “has the ability to reach the U.S.” with nuclear weapons and missile programs, but Iran does not.
Sanger also said North Korea is willing to set up a meeting and talk about the issue, but Iran is not. “The engagement at the DMZ area between North Korea and the U.S. was a huge win” that happened over 70 years, said Sanger. However, Iran has “no desire to set up a meeting” with the U.S.
Speaking at the Wilson Center, Litwak, who is senior vice president for international studies at the think tank emphasized the importance of having another summit between Trump and Kim because previous working-level discussions held by negotiators have brought the consequences of “at least got fired or at worst executed.”
Trump fired national security advisor John Bolton on Sept. 10; Kim Hyok-Chol, a special envoy to the United States, was executed in March with a charge of spying for the United States, said South Korea newspaper.
According to Litwak, “the current transformational approach relies on maximalist goals that cannot be attained short of regime change; what is necessary and more plausible is a transactional strategy with discrete, limited objectives.”