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Upon returning from the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, U.S. President Donald Trump declared the North Korea problem “solved.” Many experts did not share his optimism. Pyongyang, they argued, had done nothing to indicate that it was committed to “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.” And nothing since then—up to and including the recent meeting between U.S. and North Korean officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York—has indicated otherwise. Trump, in other words, was fleeced.
The president’s North Korea critics are right: Pyongyang has taken no steps to denuclearize in the last three months, and there’s no reason to think that it will anytime soon. Such critics are wrong, however, to assume that this is necessarily bad news. In fact, Kim’s nuclear arsenal may be more opportunity than threat. It makes a new