PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Twenty-plus years after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il almost bargained nuclear weapons away for a pair of nuclear reactors, his son Kim Jong Un still has a nation plagued by chronic blackouts.
That is the North’s Achilles heel as Kim turns his attention from developing its nuclear weapons arsenal to building its economy.
If stalled nuclear talks with Washington ever get back on track, helping Kim solve his country’s chronic energy deficit could be one of the biggest carrots President Trump has to offer.
Years of intensive sanctions have severely impacted North Korea’s supply of fossil fuels from the outside world. They also have spurred the country to cobble together a smorgasbord of energy resources, some of them off the grid and some of them flat-out illegal.