Senator, you and Adm. Mike Mullen, who was the top military adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, recently served as co-chairs of a Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward North Korea. How would you recommend the new administration handle North Korea’s clear determination to continue accelerating its nuclear and missile programs?
Unfortunately, multiple U.S. administrations have failed in their efforts to stop or stall North Korea’s nuclear ambitions – and I think it’s now likely that our next president will face a North Korea with the capability to strike the United States with nuclear weapons.
Given that reality, it’s imperative that addressing the North Korean threat be a ‘front-burner” issue for the United States. We must involve China, which can help get North Korea back to the negotiating table by working with the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Russia on diplomatic and economic approaches that will help restart negotiations.
Our report also recommended that:
- New and genuine incentives be offered to North
Korea to participate in substantive talks. Talks would include the possibility
of a comprehensive deal in which North Korea, South Korea and the United States
– with support from China – sign a peace agreement that finally and officially
ends the Korean War and gradually normalizes relations in exchange for complete
nuclear disarmament and progress on human rights.
- New multi-national steps to increase economic
sanctions that more severely restrict North Korea’s funding sources. Unfortunately, current enforcement of the sanctions is far too lax.
- And finally, we should expand U.S.-South
Korea-Japan cooperation to strengthen joint deterrence capabilities on the
Korean Peninsula, enforce the sanctions and impede North Korea’s missile
I think our next president must be clear that we are seeking to promote peace, not conflict, and that our goal is a stable and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. At the same time, our approach to Pyongyang must be sharper. We should offer greater benefits for cooperation but at the same time promise greater costs for continue defiance.