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The United States and North Korea Agreement

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As of now, and for the past 20 years, US relations with North Korea has continued to remain broken. Though recently, there have been various summits and meetings between the Trump administration and Kim regime regarding this very topic. So far, there is no deal around the denuclearization of North Korea nor the lifting of sanctions for the nation. But that does not mean one cannot be made. We have already made progress by creating a large discussion over it, and bringing these meetings to the public. The start to any solution is to first identify the problem, which the US has done to a great extent. Korea has also identified what they want in return. But so far any idea proposed by either country seems to be far more unrealistic for the other. A deal can in fact be made if there was a compromise between the two parties and a step-by-step process in order to fully accomplish each of the goals. This means partial denuclearization in exchange for partial sanctions relief. It isn’t the fastest way to accomplish either objective, but establishing a foundation is a keystone towards a more trusting relationship, especially since the US and North Korean have such a rocky history.

Creating a Realistic Solution

The Kim Regime will not give up their nuclear arsenal even with the harsh sanctions brought upon them. For them, the only thing keeping from foreign aggression and from being stepped on are those weapons. According to Michael Fuchs, North Korea’s primary objective is regime security, and any realistic deal would need to allow Korea to at least keep a large portion of their nuclear arsenal. Pessimism is the current mindset of the Korean regime and for good reason. There are many countries surrounding them, and many have nuclear infrastructures much larger than their own. If they agree to fully dismantle, they would be giving away not only their security, but also what allows them to continue to negotiate. There’s nothing stopping a foreign nation from storming in without it, and there’s no reason to trust the United States as it stands. Looking from the US perspective, it may seem like North Korea is making an aggressive move and have hostile intentions by building up their arsenal. But so far the Kim Regime has not made any move towards doing so.

For a while the United States’ only option given was to fully denuclearize or no sanctions would be lifted. However, there has recently been discussion over much better compromises that will benefit everyone. Daniel Depetris states that a good start would be to establish a better relationship with North Korea before demanding anything from either of the parties. To begin they could establish a peace treaty and treat denuclearization as a long-term goal. Doing so will allow North Korea to start trusting the United States and their intentions. Only then, will Korea even think about deconstructing some of their nuclear infrastructure. Right now, the sanctions are in fact harming North Korea’s economy, but not to the extent that the US hoped for.

As of now, ninety percent of North Korea’s trade is with China. So putting harsher sanctions on them will only “cause rift with China”. The sanctions are just not enough to pressure North Korea to do anything differently. It is more detrimental for the United States to put harsher sanctions than it is on Korea to Denuclearize, which makes it harder for the US to force Korea to act through economics.

Step-By-Step Method

Taking a slow approach with compromises is the method most theorists are leaning towards. Both Michael O’Hanlon and Uri Friedman believe that a smarter decision would be partial dismantlement of Korea’s arsenal in exchange for some of the sanctions being lifted. Furthermore, it is said that Korea may never fully denuclearize. And it makes sense considering the position they currently are in. The United States cannot force Korea to give something up that almost every country has. Korea has too much to lose. However, capping the North Korean nuclear arsenal can be a realistic goal for the long-term. It allows Korea to have nuclear weapons to effectively secure themselves and it prevents them from becoming too strong of a power and threatening the US and other nations. Friedman states that some things the United States can do to partially lift sanctions would be to “grant exemption for inter-Korean economic projects” and “reopen the industrial complex”. All of which will allow Korea to start profiting while maintaining a portion of their weapons.


It is commonly argued that the United States and North Korea can never create a deal with each other due to their terrible history and the vast differences in interests. The United States is a democratic nation while Korea is dictated by the Kim regime. But the reason why it is possible for them to create a deal is because even though they are extremely different with political practices that are looked down upon by each other, they both have something that each other wants. The Kim Regime would most definitely prefer the sanctions to be lifted so they can increase economic stability and support infrastructure. And the United States would feel much less threatened by North Korea had they stopped missile testing and increasing their nuclear arsenal. Both nations do not have to necessarily become allies or have the same form of government to come to an agreement, nor do they need cultural ties. Also, the United States is no longer enemies to most of the countries they were once at war with throughout history. Therefore, historical background, government structure, or long-term goals are irrelevant in the current topic of denuclearization.

Another common misconception is that since the United States and Korea have been unable to come to an agreement for 20 years, it is unlikely that the relationship between the two nations would ever change. The reason this was happening was because the previous administrations were attempting to come up with a quick solution and treated North Korean denuclearization as a problem that can be solved in the short-term. Depetris states both the Bush and Obama administration underestimated the conflict greatly, therefore leading to poor results. Only recently have we begun to think of denuclearization as a long-term problem that must be taken at a slow pace. Now the United States has finally started thinking differently, and policy makers are now coming up with better solutions that can benefit not only the United States, but also North Korea. That brings both parties closer to solving this problem in a realistic manner.

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