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North Korea claims to have between 20 and 40 nuclear weapons and is developing increasingly sophisticated and long-ranged missiles for their delivery. The US is continuing to demand Kim Jong-un abandon his nuclear programme in its entirety in return for sanctions relief.
Donald Trump met three times with the North Korean dictator but failed to strike a new deal.
According to Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official, it is not realistic to expect Pyongyang to entirely surrender its nuclear arsenal.
Speaking to the Financial Times he said: “North Korea is not going to give up nukes.
“The goal is quixotic, it is unreliable, it is unrealistic.
“How long can we do the same thing and expect a different result?”
This view was backed by Victor Cha, who served on the National Security Council under George W Bush and advised on dealings with North Korea.
Writing in Foreign Policy he urged Mr Biden to “cap and contain the most dangerous elements of North Korea’s weapons programme” rather than expecting the country to disarm entirely.
Mr Cha added: “Such an approach has no precedent in US negotiations with North Korea, but it does have antecedents in arms control talks during the cold war.”
This appears to be a reference to the American Cold War understanding that the USSR would not abandon its nuclear arsenal unilaterally, and instead the two countries should negotiate to regulate the arms race.
However he admitted Mr Biden would have to “frame” this as an interim policy towards the longer-term goal of full North Korean nuclear disarmament.
Any new deal would likely have difficulty getting through Congress if it acknowledges North Korea as a long-term nuclear power.
Last week Mr Biden named Antony Blinken as his secretary of state.
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Speaking in 2018, ahead of President Trump’s first meeting with Kim Jong-un, he dismissed “the fantasy that Mr Kim will hand over the keys to his nuclear kingdom”.
Writing in the New York Times he said: “The administration may find merit in an interim agreement that requires North Korea to disclose all of its programmes, freeze its enrichment and reprocessing infrastructure under international monitoring and destroy some warheads and missiles in return for limited economic relief.”
North Korea has consistently refused to cooperate over its nuclear programme with international weapons inspectors.
President Trump held two summits with Kim Jong-un, in June 2018 and February 2019, which took place in Singapore and Hanoi respectively.
The two leaders also met at the border between North and South Korea in June 2019.
However despite Mr Trump speaking about the friendly relationship between the two men no nuclear deal was signed.
North Korea conducted its first successful nuclear weapons test in October 2006.
It’s most recent took place in September 2017 sparking condemnation around the world.
Then defence secretary James Mattis warned the country of a “massive military response” if it threatened the United States or its allies.
North Korea was founded in 1948 as a communist state out of the section of Korea occupied by the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the second world war.
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