Why is North Korea cooperating with Trump? Is it sanctions, threats or business as usual?

North Korea is following Mao’s playbook. Mao developed nuclear missiles under sanctions from both the US and the Soviet Union. Then cashed in those chips to make a deal with Nixon.

What nuclear weapons did for China is to create leverage for negotiating with the US as equals. Before having nuclear weapons, there was no basis for negotiations since the American side did not consider China an equal. If you look at how the US approached diplomacy with North Korea before they developed credible nuclear missiles, it was the same exact routine. The US refused to even sit down and talk because it would legitimize North Korea as a diplomatic equal. If you look at the difference in how the US treats countries like Syria and Iraq vs North Korea, you quickly realize how much leverage nuclear weapons give. The US approach to Syria and Iraq is ultimatum and bombs. The US approach to North Korea is sit down and talk.

What nuclear missiles did for North Korea is that it gave them leverage to talk as equals with the US. I always knew this day would come once they have developed a credible nuclear missile. NK had no intention to use their nukes from the start, it is purely a diplomatic tool. If you read about what KJU has been doing in NK, it is clear that he wants to develop the country. In order to develop the country, he needs to cut military funding. In order to not get bombed by the US while cutting military funding, he needs nuclear weapons and a negotiated peace treaty.

His play book is basically an exact repeat of what China did from 1960–1980. First nukes, then negotiations, then cut military funding and open up.

Jeffery ZhangJeffery Zhang writes about about US and Chinese politics, world economics, military and travel.