Susan B. Glasser, a staff writer for The New Yorker based in Washington, speaks with Wendy Sherman about the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran deal. As the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the Obama Administration, Sherman helped write that agreement, and led the U.S. negotiating team in complex multilateral talks. She also has first-hand experience negotiating with the North Korean government, having visited Pyongyang with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the Clinton Presidency.
The Iran deal seemed to be working: in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, as the International Atomic Energy Agency subsequently verified, Iran got relief from sanctions. But Donald Trump lambasted the deal throughout his campaign and Presidency; he called it overly generous and vowed to withdraw from it. John Bolton, his recently appointed national security adviser, opposed the deal on the grounds that verification was not “infallible.” Sherman has a sobering question for the Trump Administration, which now wishes to negotiate with Kim Jong Un about North Korea’s nuclear program: “How in God’s name can any verification or monitoring of North Korea be infallible?” And Evan Osnos speaks with Victor Cha, the top North Korea adviser to George W. Bush, about the mixed signals on diplomacy coming from Pyongyang. Might the Trump Administration, eager for a foreign-policy win, be led into giving up too much?