L et’s begin at the end: Kim Jong-un is in no hurry to give up his nuclear capabilities, and there is no reason to think he will become the next Mahatma Gandhi.

Even if the North Korean dictator closes his nuclear test site — which, in light of reports that the site has collapsed, might not be much of an offer — what can’t be shuttered is North Korea’s nuclear know-how. They have now proven they are capable of producing nuclear weapons and testing ballistic missiles. That knowledge isn’t perishable.

Regarding Kim’s recent diplomacy tour, it’s safe to assume that it’s nothing more than another ruse to secure sanctions relief. North Korea needs cash — badly. If and when Kim gets it, it’s simple to imagine he’ll once again close the door on his hermit kingdom.

The Trump administration is preparing for precisely this scenario. President Trump’s top foreign policy aides, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are pushing the model of Libya in 2003. You want sanctions relief? First give international inspectors access to your nuclear facilities. Once they verify you’ve dismantled your test site, then we’ll talk about lifting sanctions and other goodies.

It is no coincidence that North Korea talks are happening at the same time the White House is deciding the fate of the Iran nuclear deal. Skeptics might suggest that a Trump nullification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would give North Korea no incentive to talk. Why would Kim meet Trump if he’s pulling out of the nuclear agreement? Wouldn’t that mean America doesn’t keep its promises?

Notice, however, that Kim met the president of South Korea at the end of last week, at a time when Trump was signaling he would pull out of the Iran deal. Kim did not set conditions for the meeting; on the contrary, he was overflowing with warmth for his southern neighbor and almost immediately issued a statement saying he sought the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.

The president’s supporters might say it’s Trump’s tough line on Iran that is producing the North Korean result. Trump’s determination to end a deal that Iran is violating in spirit is exactly what brought Kim to the table. Kim knows that it’s better to make a deal with America than to go to war with it.

Lastly, let’s remember that Kim has a lot to gain from negotiations. By offering some form of denuclearization as a fig leaf, the international community might recognize his regime and lift or ease sanctions. After that, money in hand, he can return to being a cruel and kleptocratic dictator. The truth is, North Korea is being crushed by the latest round of sanctions, so whether Kim likes it or not, he doesn’t have much choice but to negotiate.

Now, after beginning at the end, we’ll conclude with the beginning: Even without knowing how this scenario will play out, the fact that the leaders of the two Koreas, who were on the brink of war two months ago, are hugging each other in the demilitarized zone between their two counties, is good news for the world. For the first time in decades, there’s a reason to be hopeful about the Korean peninsula. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 708)