February 12, 2015

A Debate on U.S. Strategy Towards North Korea

"Testing Intentions: A Debate about US Strategy Towards North Korea," an event sponsored by the National Committee on North Korea, took place at the US Congress building on February 11, 2014, debating whether the U.S. should or should not consider recent North Korea's proposal to begin a moratorium on its nuclear weapon testings if the U.S. and South Korea cancel planned joint military exercises in South Korea.

The "debaters" were Robert Carlin, Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation; and Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow for Asia at The Heritage Foundation. Both are seasoned Korea experts, with backgrounds in the CIA, the State Department and the Defense Department.

Carlin argued in favor of consideration and engagement with North Korea, as time is running out and North Korea will end up with more and more nuclear weapon arsenal if the current status of stalled negotiations continue. He went further in saying that perhaps it is now a time to recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapon state and negotiate accordingly, as time was lost on resolving North Korea's nuclear weapon development issue. And North Korea is not likely to give up the nuclear card during negotiations for wider peninsula and regional security negotiations. 

Klingner repeated current U.S. stances and reiterated the focus on dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapon capabilities as a prerequisite for any progress, and opposed considering North Korea's recent proposal as it will legitimize North Korea's nuclear weapon development program. 

Most discussants agreed that the the Obama administration's policy towards North Korea is lacking focus and is in disarray, that concrete steps and actions are needed to amend the deteriorating situation. 

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