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The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration

14 December 2016

The Way Ahead: North Korea Recommendations for the Trump Administration

North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in September 2016 and over 20 ballistic missile tests this past year, highlighting the failure of US policy to stop the growing security threat posed by a hostile Pyongyang. As current US policy toward North Korea has reached a dead end, the incoming administration must recognize that maintaining the status quo will only worsen conditions on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

This paper evaluates three new options the next administration might consider: an Iran-style sanctions campaign, preventive military strikes and coercive diplomacy. US strategy toward North Korea has previously emphasized either diplomacy or confrontation, but has yet to integrate the two tracks with significant incentives to secure US objectives and significant disincentives to punish the DPRK if it rejects a serious and credible offer of negotiations. While it is uncertain if the United States can achieve its preferred outcomes with North Korea by adhering to this hybrid approach, Washington can no longer afford to ignore Pyongyang.

Download the report “The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration,” by Joel Wit. Korean translation now available: 이보고서는 “향후 전망: 트럼프 행정부를 위한 대북정책 제언” 에서 다운로드 할 수 있다.

For additional analysis regarding opportunities for the incoming administration to negotiate with North Korea, see “Can Trump Make a Deal With North Korea?” by Joel Wit and Richard Sokolsky.

Reader Feedback

3 Responses to “The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration”

  1. Steven M Hayden says:

    The way forward with North Korea a.k.a. DPRK must include analysis by compassionate people that visit DPRK and care for all people including DPRK. The DPRK deserves a voice in world politics even though it was denied a voice in US administrations. The US policy was initially to bomb DPRK into submission. That failed. Nuclear weapons can be an expression of dissent in a very loud form.Its better to listen with ears and your heart than need a nuclear blast to get the message. But some will not learn.

  2. o.m. says:

    There has been much guessing and gazing into crystal balls to find out if the North Korean government is untrustworthy and prone to irrational acts or merely playing irrational as a clever negotiating tactic. I’m certainly not prepared to bet much on either explanation.

    Now we have to ask the same question about the United States government. Will policy be set in a tweet at 0-dark-30 by a guy who didn’t read the briefing folder, or will it be set in a more conventional process?

    Snide remarks aside, does the United States have to reassure North Korea that it will keep future bargains? From the viewpoint of a dictator, it would be frustrating to negotiate some sanctions away in exchange for a test stop, only to have new sanctions imposed on a human rights basis.

  3. Randall says:

    The US needs to work with S Korea to improving conventional deterrent. The US also needs to increase funding for anti-ballistic missile technology such as lasers. The US is very close now to having credible laser technology to shoot down missiles. The advances in high output ousolid state lasers is advancing quickly. We have already seen this with the recent testing of laser weapons on ships

    The US and S Korea also should step up it’s dissemination of information to N Korea.

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Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.