How Trump’s Disdain for the Iran Deal Makes a North Korea Pact Even Harder
“The man who wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ has staked out a position that the Iran deal was the worst one in history,” he added. “And now he has to show that he can do much better, with a far harder case.”
On Sunday, the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” set an extraordinarily high bar for his boss, if he ever gets to that negotiation.
Mr. Pompeo acknowledged that Mr. Trump, given his disparagement of the Iran deal reached by the Obama administration, will have to get a better deal out of Mr. Kim. “I think that’s the case,” he told the host, Margaret Brennan, adding that he thought Mr. Trump would be negotiating from a greater position of strength.
That is a debatable notion. Mr. Kim has driven the pace of this diplomatic effort so far, and American officials have conceded surprise at his boldness. And if Mr. Trump pulls out of the Iran deal, Mr. Kim may well wonder why he should negotiate with the United States if a subsequent president can simply pull the plug on any agreement.
By statute, Mr. Trump must decide by May 12 whether to make good on his threat to exit the Iran deal. American officials have said Mr. Trump could pull back if European allies agree to unilaterally crack down on Iran’s missile development — which is not covered by the nuclear deal — and begin a process to make the limits on Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material permanent.
The British and the French are reluctantly going along, though they say they fear that unilateral demands would blow up an arrangement that is working. German officials are balking, saying that extending the duration of the deal would require new negotiations, and new concessions.
Yet if Mr. Trump sticks with the agreement — as his top aides have quietly urged him to do — he faces a different challenge. While he will have to negotiate a deal with the North Koreans that is even stricter than the Iranian one that he has denounced as naïve, insufficient and dangerous, that task will be made all the harder by the fact that Pyongyang, unlike Tehran, actually possesses nuclear weapons.