This author is confused. Why is the United States still actively seeking to engage in nuclear talks with North Korea? North Korea’s nuclear program is about regime survival, prestige, self-sufficiency and national defense. Pyongyang has made the strategic decision that it is in the country’s national interest to acquire and maintain nuclear weapons. The West has absolutely nothing North Korea wants.
The survival and absolute power of the Kim family is the government’s primary interest. North Korea sees the US as having intervened in an intra-Korean affair (i.e. the Korean War) and as the largest obstacle to reunification. North Korea has been threatened by the US for decades, including with nuclear weapons. The United States continues to maintain troops in South Korea and partner with Japan and South Korea against it, both the DPRK’s enemies. From the North’s perspective, nuclear weapons are not only a rational choice, but a necessary one. They are not a bargaining chip. It is not a temporary or tactical decision. They will never give them up and no amount of sanctions, threats or talks wil ever change that. US policy fails spectacularly at understanding the strategic culture of the DPRK. It’s time to give up the illusion.