Analysis

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to dismantle missile facilities in the presence of international inspectors and take steps toward denuclearization—provided the United States takes “corresponding measures.”

US President Donald J. Trump called Kim’s pledges “very exciting” on Twitter.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis will host leaders from a dozen Central European nations in Bucharest on September 17 and 18 for a summit that provides the opportunity to increase the region’s prosperity and energize its decades-long quest to fully integrate with the West.

Besides Central European heads of state and government, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and the US Energy Secretary Rick Perry will participate in this year’s Three Seas Summit.

US-Palestinian relationship is ‘broken,’ says former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad


The decision by US President Donald J. Trump’s administration to close the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a symptom of a “completely dysfunctional and broken relationship” between the United States and the Palestinians, says Salam Fayyad, a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority who is currently a distinguished statesman at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

The Trump administration’s decision was announced in a statement from the State Department as well as in remarks by senior administration officials on September 10.
US President Donald J. Trump on August 24 abruptly cancelled Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s planned trip to North Korea. Explaining his decision in a tweet, Trump wrote: “because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Days later, on August 28, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said it appeared the North Koreans were having second thoughts about denuclearization.

Interview with Alexander Vershbow, an Atlantic Council distinguished fellow and former US ambassador to South Korea

The recent setbacks to US efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons hold a lesson for US President Donald J. Trump’s administration: “It is a reminder that we need to engage with Kim Jong-un with our eyes open, and not put so much faith in the value of good personal relations,” according to Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

Trump and Kim participated in a summit in Singapore on June 12. Trump has since lavished praise on the North Korean dictator, describing him as “a very worthy, smart negotiator.”  In his August 24 tweets in which he announced his decision to cancel US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang because he felt the North Koreans have not made enough progress on denuclearization, Trump made sure to send his “warmest regards and respect” to Kim.
Of all the changes in US policy brought about by the Trump administration, none has been as shocking as that in trade. The administration is suspicious of, and at times appears willing to abandon, the multilateral system of trading rules that was both created and maintained by the United States. 

The reaction of major trading partners and international policy makers has been visceral and often intense.  They have warned that a turn toward protectionism is a threat to the global economy and continued growth, stressed the importance of upholding the rules of the international trading system, and argued that countries should solve problems through dialogue, not protectionism.

Underlying these views is the assumption, never stated, that the international trade rules are essentially complete, and that it is possible to successfully negotiate and agree on any necessary revisions while staying within the existing rules.
“If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.''

After a long week of Iran headlines – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laying out the administration’s Iran strategy, Presidents Trump and Rouhani trading implicit threats of war, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Suleimani addressing Trump by name in a speech - one might be forgiven for mistaking the above as a recent quote.

But that threat is actually from 2012, when Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi decried Obama administration oil sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is not new, but rather a tactic Tehran has turned to again and again to get what it wants.
North Korea was caught again. The Washington Post reported on July 30 that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is still constructing long-range missiles capable of reaching the US homeland. This may not be a technical violation of Pyongyang’s agreements with the United States, but it is significant.

North Korea has been riding high since the Singapore summit; Kim Jong Un is the first North Korean leader to hold court with a sitting US president. Kim had to put less on the table than all past frameworks. He then scored a series of meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jingping and received Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Pyongyang. 
US intelligence officials believe that North Korea is continuing to build new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), despite North Korean leader Kim Jung Un’s promise to work towards denuclearization after a summit with US President Donald J. Trump in June.

The intelligence findings, which were reported by The Washington Post on July 30, raise questions about Pyongyang’s commitment to improve its relations with the United States and seriously move to halt or roll back its nuclear weapons program.
The Trump administration has turned its attention squarely toward the Indo-Pacific, with one eye firmly on an increasingly assertive China.

In a significant policy speech in Washington on July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States seeks “partnership, not domination,” in the Indo-Pacific. In a thinly veiled reference to China, Pompeo added: “We… have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does.”  

What exactly does the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy set out and how can this goal be achieved in an America First era? Robert A. Manning, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, discussed the strategy in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview.


    

RELATED CONTENT