I find this more than a little incredible. First, I although I find much with which to disagree regarding foreign policy and national security with the administration I am very skeptical that the President and anyone in the administration would have such a lack of understanding of the nature of the Kim Family Regime or its strategy. A few things we should keep in mind in addition to the fact that north Korea is not Iran and if anyone thinks that we could negotiate with north Korea as we just did with Iran then he or she fails to recall the history of the Agreed Framework.
First, the US has not real standing to negotiate a peace treaty. Our position should be that a peace treaty to end the Korean War has to be negotiated between north and South Korea. Although we fought in the Korean War we did so under UN authorities and in fact the Armistice in 1953 was negotiated between the north Koreans, the Chinese Peoples' Volunteers, and the United Nations. The US and the ROK are not signatories to the Armistice (the US commander signed for the UN). The US can of course enter into negotiations and make security guarantees in return for the dismantling of the north's nuclear program but it should not enter into a peace treaty to end the war, especially if not done in complete lock-step with the ROK.
We should also understand why the north wants a peace treaty with the US. It wants to split the ROK/US alliance and get US forces off the peninsula so that it will be able to reunify the peninsula by force. As far fetched as that might sound to some the north's strategy has been well known and articulated for decades. And of course negotiating a separate peace with the US also supports another key element of the regime's strategy which is to split the ROK/US alliance. I have to believe that there are those in the administration who know and understand this which is why I am very skeptical of this supposed offer for negotiations. No one can possibly think that the Iran model can be applied to north Korea now. As I have said traditional or conventional international relations theoretical approaches are not applicable to the Kim Family Regime.
However, if this is true and did in fact occur then we should take some solace in knowing that we can confirm the nature of the Kim Family Regime and its strategy. The engagers and those who believe that if we simply need to give the north what they want and the regime will then denuclearize and live peacefully should no longer be living under the illusion or delusion that the north can act as a responsible member of the international community.
On the other hand we should also realize that if this did occur it confirms what many have thought. This is calling the north's bluff. By committing to peace negotiations and if a peace treaty could by some miracle be concluded, the north's very legitimacy would be undercut. The north actually does not want nor can it have a peace treaty with the US because it is the US as an enemy that provides the legitimacy and rationale for the regime and its oppression of the Korean people living in the north. More importantly it is the justification for the large military and if there was no need for a large military the regime could be threatened with collapse. We should note that it is the coherency and support of the military that is one of the two key elements that prevent regime collapse, the other being the ability of the regime (through the Party) to govern from the center (Pyongyang). The loss of military support and coherency would cause regime collapse. Therefore the regime cannot enter into peace negotiations.
So the bottom line is if this is a true report then someone in the administration either does not really understand the regime ORthe administration has actually undertaken one of the best deception operations to call the north's bluff and to ensure the US has the moral high ground to implement the toughest sanctions regime and ultimately change the US strategy from simply deterrence and defense and trying to eliminate the north's nuclear program to one that focuses on what comes next after the Kim Family Regime. That of course is unification because as I have said many times, it is my belief that we will never see an end to the nuclear and missile programs and the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime except through unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea (UROK). This action by the administration may have been to give the north one last chance and now we have complete justification to move beyond our current strategic paralysis and focus on the only way out of this complex situation. We will have to see the next steps in the US and the ROK/US strategy to determine whether the administration really does understand the Kim Family Regime and if it has taken perhaps one of the more sophisticated foreign
policy actions in the last 8 years.