Among the many challenges facing the next occupant of the White House, few will be more pressing, or more complex, than that posed by North Korea’s seemingly inexorable drive to nuclear statehood. Whatever the outgoing administration’s policy was with regard to curbing the North’s nuclear ambitions, it has clearly failed.
The one thing the new president will not lack is vocal advice from any number of think-tanks, policy wonks, former diplomats and retired generals who believe they have the solution. The policy argument essentially pits those who favor threatening the North Korean regime’s very existence with crushing sanctions backed by military threat, against those who prefer a cocktail of measures in which tough sanctions and military strength provide a base for offering talks and incentives to denuclearize.
In a stark assessment delivered to a Washington think-tank last week, the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said convincing North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons was “a lost cause”.
Those who back dialogue include Jane Harman and James Person of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who wrote a recent op-ed in the Washington Post titled: “The US Needs to Negotiate with North Korea.”
The only real area of consensus on North Korea is that …its nuclear and missile testing program has accelerated to the point where previous estimates — once seen as alarmist — that it could have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States by 2020, are now seen as soberly prudent.
[The Star (Malaysia)]