October 01, 2023

In Washington DC, pessimism on North Korea now prevails

A rare consensus has emerged in the Beltway: the DPRK's nukes are not going anywhere

Last month I spent nearly two weeks in Washington DC, talking to both officials and experts. As has often been the case in the past, I would like to parse for readers about what is going on inside the Beltway. Some discretion is necessary, of course, so no names are going to be mentioned here.

One thing which is striking in Washington DC's "North Korea-watching community" in the summer of 2018 is the remarkable level of consensus on all major issues. This is not always the case: during earlier trips to Washington, there have been cases when I was truly perplexed by the level of disagreement among bureaucrats and experts. Now, such uncertainty is not seen: people generally agree on what’s going on, and what we should expect.