North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is proud of his nuclear arsenal. During the tenure of Donald Trump, the two leaders had discussed the subject of abandoning the nuclear program of the North but failed to arrive at an acceptable solution. In June 2019, Donald Trump became the first US President to cross the Demilitarized and meet Kim Jong-un. Since then, there has been a change of guard at the White House and Kim Jong-un now has to make a fresh start with Joe Biden. In recent speeches to his people, Kim vowed to strengthen his nuclear weapons program. He wants America to reconsider its policies because the North interprets them as hostile.

The leader of the hermit kingdom is worried, UN sanctions and border closures resulting from the pandemic have battered the economy of his country. Kim Jong-un has to begin all over again with Biden who might have a different approach.

AP News says North Korea could test the new U.S. administration with provocations like missile launches. It might feel such actions could pay dividends and compel the US to return to the negotiating table. That was the scenario when Trump took over. There were new weapons on display at recent military parades in Pyongyang. These could revive tensions in the Korean peninsula because the regime of Kim Jong-un looks at the weapons as its guarantee of survival. Hence, it would not voluntarily agree to abandon its nuclear program.

Joe Biden may not accord top priority to Kim Jong-un

In the early days of Donald Trump, the nuclear arsenal of Kim Jong-un was a major threat to not only the United States but to its Asian allies as well. In 2017, Pyongyang detonated a purported thermonuclear warhead. It also conducted flight tests of ICBMs that could penetrate deep into the American homeland.

Subsequently, there began a period of diplomacy between the two Koreas and America. Kim Jong-un sent a message to Donald Trump on New Year 2019. That was the beginning. AP News goes on to add that the diplomacy was short-lived. It derailed in 2019 because of a clash of interests. Trump wanted complete denuclearization first while Kim’s demand was sanction relief.

However, North Korea might not be in the top priority list of Biden. He has to take care of domestic issues.

Waiting game for Kim Jong-un and Joe Biden

North Korea wants to make its presence felt. Biden was vice president under Barack Obama. At that time, it was the waiting game. The administration kept up the pressure on North Korea by increasing sanctions. However, the North has developed its weapons capabilities over the years. China is now its only major ally. Kim Jong-un plans to improve ties with the outside world. AP News explains North Korea has submarine-launched ballistic systems. Kim displayed them in recent parades and it could be the first provocation under the Biden administration. In all probability, Kim will not go in for testing of weapons until after Biden’s State of the Union address in February.

That is when he might define his policy. Kim would also wait to see whether America and its ally South Korea conduct a major joint military exercise expected in March.

Biden should discuss human rights issue with Kim Jong-un

According to VOA, North Korean defectors who are living in the United States want the Biden administration to assign importance to human rights instead of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. They want President Biden to deal forcefully with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on this subject. Donald Trump had initially done that. He had even invited one of the defectors, who were also human rights activists, to his first State of the Union address in 2018. However, once Trump and Kim met at summits and exchanged letters, the subject of human rights took a back seat.

Incidentally, there are more than 200 North Korean defectors in the US. Most of them are legal residents while some are illegal immigrants.

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