Analysis: Reality sets in for Trump on Iran, Korea

Pompeo said that the US was still pushing forward toward “rapid” denuclearization from North Korea. That is if you think of 2021 as rapid.

By
September 21, 2018 08:40
2 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un sign documents that acknowledge the

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un sign documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018.. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Looking back, Wednesday may turn out to be the single most decisive day in understanding the future of the Trump administration’s policy on Iran and North Korea up to this point. And all of this in turn may have massive implications for Israeli security.

In the same 24 hours, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo permanently scrapped the “rapid” denuclearization of North Korea policy, and his Iran-policy czar Brian Hook signaled that imminent regime change in Tehran is not in the cards.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


While not necessarily unexpected, these are staggering changes.

Neither Pompeo nor Hook made these crucial policy shifts explicitly.

If you look at actual wording, Pompeo said that the US was still pushing forward toward “rapid” denuclearization from North Korea. That is if you think of 2021 as rapid.

Leading into and immediately after US President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump and others had alluded to a process which could start changing Pyongyang immediately.

Some spoke of getting full declarations of the North’s nuclear arsenal and of rolling back large portions of its nuclear program within 90 days.

Not only is 2021 more than two years from now, it is also after Trump’s re-election bid. That means he has given up on trying to present a deal before the next election. It also means that whatever the outcome of the November 2020 election, he or a new president will be free to ignore the 2021 deadline without any real political consequences.

Regarding Iran, Trump and Pompeo’s May speeches seemed to signal that they were going for regime change in Tehran and nothing less.

In July, within a period of a week, Trump appeared to both threaten nuking Iran into the stone age and meet to start nuclear diplomacy with no preconditions. But neither tactic got any sudden policy changes from the ayatollahs.

Further, while the Islamic Republic appears to be hurting economically – even worse than expected following the August 6 renewal of US sanctions – it also seems to be holding together politically far more than the Trump administration would like.


Enter Hook’s public announcement of a renewed attempt to get Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table, even as he acknowledged Tehran continues to give the Trump administration the cold shoulder.

There are technically still pressure campaigns against both North Korea and Iran – and the one against the Islamic Republic will intensify with another round of sanctions in November.

But you do not make a point of publicly re-offering negotiations to a regime that is ignoring you, if you expect it to disappear anytime in the near future.

What does this mean for Israel?

It means that Jerusalem will closely watch what new concessions the US may offer North Korea to keep negotiations running, or to get them kick-started with Iran.

Some concessions may not matter to Israel.

But others, such as Iran’s presence in Syria and whether Tehran gets to keep testing missiles that can reach Israel – even if it might need to make concessions on longer-range missiles at some point – could matter a lot.

Also, any concessions the US makes to North Korea could improve Iran’s hand in the nuclear standoff.

In short, the quick-fix phase of either North Korea or Iran is over – and the long slog, where the devil is in the details, has begun.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Spokesperson Heather Nauert (L) speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
December 12, 2018
Effort to thwart Iranian missiles 'futile' so far, Pompeo says

By MICHAEL WILNER