EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: US President Donald Trump is expected to meet Kim Jong-un within two months. The Trump administration has little time to prepare, and it is unclear which Korean experts will be involved. It is also impossible to predict how Trump’s negotiating style will be received. Pyongyang will not give up all its nuclear weapons immediately. Kim will likely propose a phased negotiation and a step-by-step denuclearization on condition that the regime’s safety is guaranteed and the US-South Korean alliance is denuclearized beforehand.
According to the Pentagon, Russia and North Korea have increased the salience of nuclear forces in their defense strategies and have engaged in increasingly explicit nuclear threats. In a challenge to Washington’s military superiority in the western Pacific, both Moscow and Beijing are pursuing entirely new nuclear capabilities tailored to achieve their national security objectives. The Korean peninsula – which is bordered by China and Russia – has thus taken on great geopolitical significance in the Asia-Pacific. It is vital that tensions on the Korean peninsula be kept from escalating.