Dr. Mike Mochizuki, Nuclear Debates in Asia project co-director and associate dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and Michael O’Hanlon recently co-wrote in the New York Times:
Nothing about the international response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February or subsequent provocations has been unreasonable. The crisis is entirely of Pyongyang’s making. But it is possible that the hard-line approach taken by Washington, Seoul and other capitals to the North Korean bluster, brinkmanship and bombast has been far less than optimal.
We need a firm policy. North Korea must pay a price for its irresponsible and dangerous behavior, and know that the world is united in standing against it. The resolve must begin with the U.S.-South Korean military alliance but extend to other nations, most notably China, North Korea’s only ally and main benefactor.
But there are a couple of problems. One is that China is uneasy about jeopardizing stability next to its borders and only goes along with sanctions reluctantly. Indeed, one possible explanation for North Korea’s behavior is that it is seeking to spook leaders in Beijing so severely that they will be even more averse to applying any further sanctions, perhaps after another North Korean nuclear test.
And the worse this crisis gets, the more it increases the odds of North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, further entrenching himself in hard-line positions from which it will be difficult to backtrack later. Among other things, it would raise the odds that he will seek to accelerate and expand nuclear weapons production activities.
We need a more creative policy should there be another crisis or a substantial worsening of this one (beyond a firing of a medium-range missile, for example). More sanctions might be needed. But new sanctions should sunset automatically, say after two years, unless Pyongyang tests another bomb, expands nuclear production or carries out another aggressive act leading to loss of life. (more…)Continue Reading →
After several weeks of internal deliberation, the United Nations Security Council agreed on Thursday to expand sanctions against North Korea in response to its February 12 nuclear test. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2094 joins a number of prior resolutions (1695, 1718, 1874, and 2087) issued after past missile experiments and nuclear tests by the reclusive nation.
The latest vote was unsurprisingly met with condemnation by Pyongyang, which announced that it was nullifying nonaggression and denuclearization pacts with South Korea, silencing an emergency hot-line between the two countries, and earlier this week threatened to carry out “a preemptive nuclear strike” on the United States.
RPI Nuclear Debates in Asia author Scott A. Snyder writes that the increasingly punitive resolutions are “designed to cut off flows of nuclear and missile technologies between North Korea and the outside world and to signal international disapproval of North Korea’s nuclear-related activities.” Furthermore, Snyder highlights that the resolution “reaffirms its support to the Six Party Talks, calls for their resumption, urges all the participants to intensify their efforts on the full and expeditious implementation of the 19 September 2005 [Six Party Talks] Joint Statement.”
Despite the unanimous vote on the Security Council, Snyder believes it remains to be seen:
“whether member states, including China, are prepared to implement these new measures, or whether they will be subjected to a combination of strict interpretations and “willful blindness” on the docks that would render the new measures ineffective.”
Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea Studies and director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, advises North Korean leaders that continued brinksmanship which “turns a deaf ear to the international community’s frustrations” could ultimately undermine its strategy of regime survival if these provocations lead to more “vigorous” implementation of current U.N. Security Council resolutions by long-time but increasingly irritated partners such as China.Continue Reading →