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Credibility Is Key In U.S./North Korea Negotiations

Credibility Is Key In U.S./North Korea Negotiations


In upcoming talks between the U.S. and North Korea, the credibility each party brings to the negotiation table is vital to the strength of any future peace agreement. And a lot of work needs to be done on both sides to make sure credibility exists and remains intact.

In the News:

For North Korea to lay down its nuclear weapons, Kim must be genuinely convinced that the United States will not harm his regime. Strengthening the credibility of U.S. assurances will require extensive measures, such as a personal guarantee by Trump, a resolution from Congress, and/or a Chinese role in serving as a guarantor of any peace agreement. But even these measures, difficult as they will be to arrange, may not go far enough to satisfy a regime that is convinced the United States seeks to overturn it.

North Koreans will face their own struggle to prove their trustworthiness, given a track record of violating deal after deal they have signed in the past. Most observers believe North Korea will cheat and continue to expand its nuclear program in coming months. To prove he is serious about denuclearization, Kim would have to accept invasive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in not only declared nuclear sites but also undeclared military sites as well. This is something most states, let alone a reclusive one like North Korea, would find hard to accept.

Peace Science Insights:

  • Peace agreements mediated with credibility leverage last over twice as long as agreements without credibility leverage.
  • Credibility leverage is most effective at generating durable and long-lasting peace after the agreement.


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