05.10.2018 0

Trump’s art of the deal: Ending Iran nuclear deal sends right message to North Korea

By Robert Romano

In leaving the Iran nuclear deal after Tehran failed to fully account for its nuclear weapons program at the outset of the agreement, President Donald Trump has sent exactly the right message to North Korea, which is that if Kim Jong-un desires peace, he must come clean on all of his country’s nuclear weapons.

Otherwise, no deal.

In Trump’s mind, no deal is better than a bad deal. In his book, “The Art of the Deal,” he wrote, “The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Trump adds, “Leverage: don’t make deals without it.”

Well, when it comes to foreign policy, President Donald Trump is quickly learning that the best leverage in negotiations is the possibility that the negotiations might fail, and there won’t be a deal.

With a sure path to further sanctions or worse for North Korea, Trump is easing the alternate path for North Korea. Going after Iran helps.

With North Korea’s economy on the brink thanks to the sanctions being imposed by the U.S. and China, and Trump applying the credible threat of force to North Korea should it move militarily — last year he promised “fire and fury” — Pyongyang has been driven to the table and now big concessions are being seen.

During the historic meeting last month between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the two agreed in principle to finally end the Korean War after 68 years and to pursue denuclearization of the peninsula.

Now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has returned to the U.S. with three American hostages that had been held by North Korea.

And a date and location have now been set for Trump and Kim to meet to discuss matters further.

All the while, Trump has reminded the world that if it looks like there’s a bad deal or North Korea is unwilling to move forward with disarmament, he’ll walk away from the table.

But so far, Trump’s positioning appears to be working. Now, thanks to withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea can observe what will happen if it does not deal honestly with the U.S. Upon exiting the deal, Trump used his legal authority granted by Congress to enact severe sanctions on Iran.

Other examples can be seen with Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate accords and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Or using the threat of his steel and aluminum tariffs to achieve big concessions from trade partners including South Korea, Canada and Mexico.

When President Trump ran for office in 2016, he promised that he would bring his skills as a shrewd business negotiator to the table and now he’s proving it. This is a President who understands how to use American power in an effective manner to protect national security and U.S. interests.

To be credible, after it was revealed that Iran had lied about the extent of its nuclear weapons program, Trump had little choice but to terminate the agreement. Otherwise Kim might be tempted to pursue a deal in bad faith.

President Trump is right to be cautious. North Korea has made false signals before to get sanctions lifted only to return to its saber rattling and that may be what happens here. However, this time can be different because now there’s a predictable set of rules Trump has put in place for Kim to follow. Kim can take the path of Iran, and there will be more sanctions or worse. Or he can follow the path of peace, which will surely lead to prosperity.

At the end of the day, the choice is Kim’s but with Trump there reminding him of the very fearsome consequences of insisting on keeping his nuclear weapons program, the odds he will make the right one are rising. Peace could be at hand.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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