The former senior US intelligence official on North Korea said Kim Jong-un’s regime was “disappointed” with the Biden administration’s policies so far, saying Pyongyang likely hoped the new US administration would have provided a “concrete road map” to restart stalled nuclear talks now.
Andy Kim, who led the CIA’s Korea Mission Center at the height of the Trump administration’s high-stakes summits with North Korea in 2018 and 2019, said on Tuesday that the Kim regime had spent months “in patiently wait to know what the North Korean policy of the new US administration was. would look like.
“I think they ended up [were] disappointed, “Kim said in remarks to” The Washington Brief, “a series of virtual events hosted by the Washington Times Foundation. He said the Biden administration had so far adopted a “classic political option of compromise of a calibrated and practical approach” towards Pyongyang.
Others have been more critical, with North Korea consistently rejecting Mr Biden’s offers to resume direct talks without preconditions this year. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently called the Biden approach a return to the “strategic patience” of the Obama and Bush era that he says turns a blind eye to North Korean nuclear and military violations.
Mr Kim pointedly avoided noting the Biden administration’s approach on Tuesday, instead offering a blunt analysis that North Koreans had been waiting for and hoping the Biden administration would have aligned itself more with the left-wing government in Korea. South which promotes engagement and concessions in the North.
“I think Pyongyang was probably hoping to see a more concrete roadmap from the United States, taking an action-for-action approach, [while] giving North Korea some credit for what they have been doing over the past four years, ”he said. “… I’ve heard this over and over from their North Korean counterparts – that the American side didn’t really recognize them what they did.”
Mr. Kim specifically touched on the Kim regime’s shutdown of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear testing since the historic Singapore summit in 2018 with Mr. Trump.
North Korea’s frustration with the Biden administration may explain recent rhetorical threats and other provocations from Pyongyang, including recent test launches of several shorter-range missiles.
Mr. Kim, who appeared for “The Washington Brief” with former US negotiators in North Korea, Ambassadors Joseph DeTrani and Christopher Hill, as well as Alexander Mansourov of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, a indicated that a range of factors could affect US policy towards Pyongyang in the coming months.
He has so far defined the policy of the Biden administration as a policy of “risk management”, as opposed to the “crisis management” approach adopted by the Trump administration in 2017 amid escalation. major at the time of the North Korean ICBM tests, as well as a nuclear detonation that year by the Kim regime.
Direct talks between the United States and North Korea have now stalled for more than two years following two high-stakes leadership-level summits under Mr. Trump. The summits caught the world’s attention, but ultimately failed to convince North Korea to abandon the nuclear weapons program or relax crippling US and international economic sanctions that Pyongyang has long criticized.
Mr Kim, a long-time former CIA officer, suggested that the Biden administration might just allow South Korea to lead the policy for the time being. South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently made diplomatic overtures to Kim’s regime and expressed a desire to sign a declaration ending the official state of war with Pyongyang dating back to the 1950s before stepping down. next year.
The U.S. intelligence community is engaged in a heated internal debate over whether the United States should call on China as a potential partner in an attempt to influence the Kim regime.
China, which shares a border with North Korea, is Pyongyang’s main economic partner and its only strategic ally. Beijing is also accused by critics of evading UN and US sanctions against North Korea through a network of shady deals that provide goods and money in return for North Korean coal.
The United States and South Korea don’t always agree on what China’s role should be, Kim said.
“Sometimes we think China can put pressure on North Korea on our behalf and sometimes we don’t want China involved at all,” he said. “On the other hand, South Korea still sees China as a major player in relations with North Korea.”
It is no secret that China wants to “be a major player in this effort,” he added, warning that Chinese President Xi Jinping may seek to take advantage of the situation over the years. months to get the message across that it is a more powerful country and influential regional power broker than the United States.
Specifically, Kim said, the United States should be wary that Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in could get together for a meeting on the sidelines of the upcoming February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“The fact that Xi Jinping is having some sort of meeting, all three of them,” he said, “is the last thing the United States would like to see.”