The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a political advisory institution for the U.S. Congress, raised a concerned voice, saying that the policy collaboration between South Korea and the U.S. towards North Korea is becoming more and more unpredictable. The report titled “South Korea: Background and U.S. Relations” published on Monday by CRS said, “After several years of close coordination, notably on North Korea, collaboration between the United States and South Korea has become more inconsistent and unpredictable under the administrations of Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in.”
The report also diagnosed the current situation, saying, “Kim and Trump met again in Hanoi in February 2019, though the negotiations collapsed, dealing a major blow to Moon’s agenda of developing closer ties to the North. U.S.-DPRK and ROK-DPRK diplomacy have stalled since the Hanoi summit.” It also added, “The Trump administration’s tendency to change policy positions unexpectedly adds another element of uncertainty.”
The CRS report also analyzed that President Moon appears to have been convinced that the U.S., rather than North Korea, represented the greatest immediate threat to South Korean security as the Trump administration in 2017 repeatedly raised the possibility of launching a preventive military strike against North Korea, which would risk triggering a North Korean retaliation against South Korea.
“The combination of the fear of war, an ideological preference for engagement, and a belief that South Korea should shape the future of the Korean Peninsula drove Moon to improve inter-Korean relations and broker U.S.-DPRK talks,” the report assessed.
The report also pointed, “Critical differences remain on policy issues like whether and under what conditions to offer concessions to North Korea.” It also mentioned the increased share of defense costs, the tariff imposed on automobiles in accordance with Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, and the suspension of the import of the Iranian oil as areas about which the two countries don’t see eye to eye.