President Trump needs a “Plan B” to force Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear program. Much like negotiating with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, any direct talks with North Korea are not likely to succeed if American negotiators continue to ignore human rights and focus exclusively on arms control.
Until the 1980s, U.S.-Soviet summit conferences resulted only in briefly reduced tensions or broken promises. The Reagan-Gorbachev summits were different because they stressed the importance, indeed the primacy, of human rights, especially including the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
The Jackson-Vanik Amendment, named for its sponsors, Sen. Henry M. (“Scoop”) Jackson, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Charles Vanik, Ohio Democrat, specified that the Soviets would be granted Most Favored Nation (MFN) status only if they allowed their people the right to leave. Richard Perle, then a staffer for Jackson, noted, “Scoop believed that immigration was in some ways the most powerful of all the human rights because If you can imprison people you can do anything, but if people have the right to leave, you’d have to create a decent society, so that was the seminal human right for Scoop.”