Back in February, the Trump administration announced a slew of sanctions against North Korea, slapping penalties on one person, 27 companies and 28 ships, according to a statement on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea were also evident in each country’s rhetoric, with leaders of both nations exchanging personal barbs and threatening military action.
The increasing pressure, however, appears to have goaded Kim to reconsider, encouraging some of the warmest dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang in years. The diplomacy was so successful, Moon said Monday, that U.S. President Donald Trump ought to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump “deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks. It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure,” Moon said in January.
To be sure, negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea face an uphill climb, with Mnuchin explaining that any compromise with Kim would have to include verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, an outcome many geopolitical analysts consider doubtful.
“We will not take off the sanctions until we are convinced and can verify that [Kim] will give up his nuclear weapons,” Mnuchin added at the Milken conference. “This has been a major issue of his since he got into office.”
The two leaders are expected to meet at some point in the next several weeks, though no specific date has been determined.