Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

How a Joe Biden Administration Could Negotiate with North Korea

| Aug. 18, 2020

A new administration taking a new approach could try a negotiated package, although the prospects are not good, but, if it fails, the U.S. and South Korea should not panic.


As Election Day rapidly approaches, and with it a potential change of presidential administration, the Center for the National Interest's Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a simple question: If Joe Biden wins come November, what do you expect his North Korea policy to look like? The below piece is an answer to that question.

President Trump was only the latest American to deceive himself into believing he could negotiate denuclearization with North Korea. But Kim Jung-un does not want to give up his weapons, and North Korea has announced that it has essentially mastered nuclear strike capability and become a full-fledged nuclear state.

It is important to dispose of several myths that interfere with a clear analysis of the situation. First, Kim Jung-un may be a dictator, but he is not crazy or suicidal. Thus far, he has outplayed the U.S. and China in this high stakes game, but he understands that a nuclear exchange with the U.S. means the end of the regime he is trying to preserve. Second, we often exaggerate how much power Kim's rocketry gives him. North Korea has had nuclear weapons for more than a decade, and they can be delivered to East or West coast. Third, in his game of bluff and chicken, geography provides North Korea with local escalation dominance....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Nye, Joseph S. Jr.“How a Joe Biden Administration Could Negotiate with North Korea.” The National Interest, August 18, 2020.