Peace with Kim – the least bad option

Accepting Kim Jong-un's offer for nuclear disarmament may be naive, but it's the best option on the table.

Kim: promising concessions

2018 Getty Images

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has offered to "permanently dismantle" his country's main nuclear site, but only if the US reciprocates, possibly by declaring a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, says Choe Sang-Hun in The New York Times.

He offered the concession during a three-day summit in Pyongyang with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. The leaders also agreed to open rail links and jointly bid for the 2032 summer Olympics, says Benjamin Haas in The Guardian. Kim added that he would visit Seoul; a first for a North Korean leader.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Kim's offer may not amount to much, says Richard Lloyd Parry in The Times. Yes, "the dismantling of a missile testing site in front of international inspectors would be spectacular" but Kim has his missiles and "doesn't need the site any more". His promises about the Yongbyon facilities are "similarly ambiguous".

Moon's embrace of Kim is causing "disquiet" within the US administration, among South Korean conservatives and in Japan, America's other ally, says Simon Denyer in The Washington Post. Moon's view is that it is "only by building trust" that Kim will be persuaded to denuclearise.

This contrasts sharply with the "maximum pressure" stance of the Trump administration, which is that Kim must take action before US largesse can "kick in". Moon's cheerleading efforts also "often sidestep the fact that Kim still leads the world's most repressive totalitarian regime".

Yet Trump, like Moon, also appears to be betting that the "corpulent dictator" is a reformist, says Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times. Last week he accepted an invitation to another summit with Kim, proclaiming on Twitter that they would "prove everyone wrong". Given the prospect of war between two nuclear-armed states just last year, it is no wonder that Moon is doing all he can. It may "be a nave, long-odds bet". But it is "preferable to the alternative."




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
UK Economy

Mervyn King: why the Covid pandemic is a classic example of radical uncertainty

This week, Merryn talks to ex-governor of the Bank of England Merryn King about the pandemic and how to prepare for a future that is unknowable; the g…
2 Jun 2020
UK Economy

“Stealth” debt jubilees are here – and that’s a very good thing

We may not have had a full-scale debt jubilee, but many Covid relief measures quietly amount to “micro-jubilees”. That’s something to celebrate, says …
1 Jun 2020

Sales will bounce back, but will profits?

As the lockdown ends, everyday life will resume – just don’t expect business as usual, says Matthew Lynn.
31 May 2020

Most Popular

UK Economy

What bounce back loans can tell us about how we’ll pay for all this

The government will guarantee emergency "bounce back loans" for small businesses hit by Covid-19. Inevitably, many businesses will default. And there'…
1 Jun 2020

This looks like the biggest opportunity in today’s markets

With low interest rates and constant money-printing, most assets have become expensive. But one major asset class hasn’t. John Stepek explains why com…
2 Jun 2020
Global Economy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: James Ferguson on the virus, the lockdown, and what comes next

Merryn talks to MoneyWeek regular James Ferguson of Macrostrategy Partnership about what's happened so far with the virus; whether the lockdown was th…
28 May 2020