DAVID GREENE, HOST:
North Korea is promising more, quote, "gift packages" for the United States. It's safe to say that is yet another threat from the regime, which recently carried out its latest nuclear test. So what should President Trump do now, keep up his own threats or find a way to negotiate?
Suzanne DiMaggio is on the line. She's a senior fellow at the think tank New America, and she held talks with North Korean officials this year. Good morning.
SUZANNE DIMAGGIO: Good morning. I'm happy to be with you.
GREENE: So I wanted to ask you about North Korea because you and some former officials, with President Trump's blessing, you met in Norway with North Korean diplomats just this past May. So did you see this confrontation coming then? Did they say something that led you to think this was going to happen?
DIMAGGIO: Absolutely. And not only in our discussions, which were private, but in their public talk as well, they've made it clear that they have an unflinching determination to advance their nuclear program to the point where they are confident that it can ensure its survival - their survival by fending off any attack from the U.S.
Their quest to demonstrate that they possess a reliable, nuclear-tipped ICBM capability that can reach here in the United States is their absolute top priority. And they're well on their way of achieving this. Also, they see having this capacity as a way to strengthen their negotiating position as they contemplate a return to talks, and they are thinking about that.
GREENE: OK. So they want to be able to defend themselves, which makes us think that you're not seeing a sign that they're going to take action first, which is - I guess - reassuring. But they also want to strengthen their position in talks. Are there more talks coming? Do you think President Trump should open the door to more talks, or does that risk him and the United States appearing weak?
DIMAGGIO: Well, what I just described leads us to two very important questions, are the recent tests enough to demonstrate that capability? And are they satisfied that they have strengthened their negotiating position? And I would contend that have - are quickly approaching this goal, although we should expect to see more missile tests. So yes, I think the timing is right for the Trump administration to test the North Koreans to see if they can be serious about diplomatic engagement. And the only way to do so is to talk to them.
GREENE: I guess - let me ask, though, does President Trump risk seeming weak? - which is something, I mean, it seems like this president never wants to do. Is there a risk there?
DIMAGGIO: The whole notion of negotiation as appeasement, I think, is absurd and ridiculous. It's negotiation and diplomacy that we prevent wars. And, you know, I think in the case of North Korea, it's an urgent issue - approaching crisis. And the only way this is going to be resolved is through talking and diplomacy.
GREENE: All right, Suzanne DiMaggio is a senior fellow at the think tank New America. And she also has experience sitting down and talking to North Korean diplomats, which she did this past May. Thanks for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.
DIMAGGIO: It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.