Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyeongyang have been stalled for almost two years since the Hanoi Summit on February 27th between then U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to an inconclusive ending.
With both sides unable to compromise on major steps and commitments on denuclearization, the second Trump-Kim summit was deemed more showbiz than substance in essence, a failure.
The question since then has been whether the two sides can revive the momentum, and how the new Joe Biden administration will engage with the dictatorship to remove the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Can a deal be done?
Today, we turn to none other than Ambassador Robert Gallucci who was the lead nuclear negotiator with North Korea in 1994. He landed a breakthrough deal with Pyeongyang that froze the regime's nuclear weapons development for almost a decade.
Upon leaving public service, Ambassador Gallucci served as Dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for 13 years before he became president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
North Korea last month showcased a new type of SLMB. They said it was the world's most powerful weapon. Do you think that's true? How advanced do you think North Korea’s nuclear programme actually is?
During the Bush administration, you advised that negotiators set clear, reachable goals that guide them throughout the talks. Is nonproliferation and disarmament the best that the world can hope for at this point? What are some goals negotiators could focus on once they return to talks with Pyeongyang?
Under the Clinton administration, you secured the 1994 Agreed Framework with the North which held them back for almost a decade from further developing nuclear weapons. How were you able to stop tensions from further escalating, and how did you build enough trust from the North Koreans for them to be able to sign a deal?
How can this guide future negotiations with the North?
When the Hanoi summit came to an inconclusive ending, Kim Jong-un couldn’t hide the disappointment from his face. What do you think he’d been angling for?
Also, what do you think the Biden administration will want to see from Pyeongyang, and how can the U.S. be assured North Korea will refrain from cheating as it has done over the years?
Some observers have been calling for the U.S. to provide assurances to appease Kim Jong-un through sanctions relief or by cutting back on ROK-US joint exercises. But are these sound policy decisions? What are the things that should never be compromised on?
In order to take constructive steps to remove the nuclear threat from North Korea, how important is it to prioritise the Seoul-Washington alliance, unite their stance and coordinate their steps?
Is there a danger of giving away too much too soon?
How will China come into play? Will the U.S.-China rivalry complicate progress on nonproliferation?
America always has snappy keywords or phrases to describe its foreign policy approach such as maximum pressure, strategic patience, pivot to Asia, and so forth. What approach do you hope to see from the Biden administration? How would you brand that policy?
That's where we must leave the discussion for today. Ambassador Robert Gallucci, we thank you for your time and your insight.