REPORT: U.S. Policy towards North Korea

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REPORT: U.S. Policy towards North Korea

U.S. Policy towards North Korea: Strategic Shaping and Interim Steps to Denuclearization

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the National Security Network and the National Committee on North Korea released the paper, “U.S. Policy towards North Korea: Strategic Shaping and Interim Steps to Denuclearization.” The paper’s release coincided with an event on Capitol Hill featuring Ambassador Christopher Hill, NSN Executive Director John Bradshaw, and NCNK Executive Director Karin Lee. Below is an executive summary of the paper.

To read the full report, click here.

North Korea’s WMD program advances pose an increasing threat to the U.S. while its brinksmanship tactics create instability and the risk of conflict arising from miscalculation. The administration’s emphasis on coordination with South Korea, Japan, and China is an important step toward enhancing regional stability. However, it has done little to change the trajectory of North Korean nuclear and missile program developments. A policy of strategic shaping would add to current efforts by expanding dialogue with North Korea and aiming for realistic interim steps toward denuclearization as well as putting in place more robust crisis management mechanisms on the Peninsula.

Taking interim steps for real progress on denuclearization

  • While engaging in dialogue without North Korean commitment to denuclearize would wrongly signal acceptance of North Korea’s nuclear program, anything less than a full-fledged effort to get the denuclearization process back on track would result in de facto acquiescence to a nuclear North Korea.
  • Realistic, interim steps must be the starting point to reach the ultimate goal of verifiable denuclearization. Preliminary concessions, such as a halt to nuclear and missile testing and a freeze on fissile material production, would slow North Korea’s WMD advances and provide immediate value to the U.S.

Shaping a New Environment

  • Routinized dialogue with North Korea can enhance crisis management and provide important information about its intentions.
  • Person-to-person exchanges with North Korea can showcase American values, break down information barriers, and help foster long-term change.

Why now?

  • Changing regional dynamics, such as China’s renewed focus on North Korean denuclearization and the South Korean leadership’s new policy approach, increase the chances for sustained success.
  • A multilateral approach to interim steps, with greater buy-in from China and South Korea, would be more difficult for North Korea to reverse than previous bilateral efforts and undergird American leadership in Northeast Asia.
To continue reading, click here.
To read the executive summary as a PDF, click here.

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