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  • Author: Kelsey Davenport, Julia Masterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: Addressing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons is one of the most significant and complex challenges facing the United States. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a verifiable diplomatic process that reduces risk and rolls back Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program requires a whole of government approach, including constructive contributions from members of the U.S. Congress. While crafting and implementing such an approach will be the prerogative of the Executive Branch, the role that Congress can play in supporting or hindering such a process should not be overlooked. Congress has used an array of tools to put in place conditions for negotiations, express its support or opposition to administration policy, and implement coercive measures toward North Korea designed to punish Pyongyang for its violations of international law and stymie its weapons development efforts. Using survey data and in-depth interviews from the late months of 2020, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang. More clarity into Congressional views and attitudes may lead to more effective policymaking.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Yong-Sup Han
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the end of 2017, the Korean Peninsula reached the brink of a nuclear war, as the US president Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged words of nuclear threats each other. A tug of war as to whose nuclear button is bigger and stronger exacerbated the nuclear crisis. However, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in intervened to resolve the crisis by taking advantage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In doing so, President Moon intended to pursue denuclearisation and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula at the same time. North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un responded positively to the South Korean call to hold the inter-Korean summit and the Trump-Kim summit. In order to end the Korean war and promote peace-building on the Korean Peninsula including termination of hostile acts on inter-Korean relations, the two Koreas adopted the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration, the September 19th Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the Inter-Korean Military Agreement at their summit in 2018. The Military Agreement is aimed at reducing tension and building trust between the two Koreas through conventional arms control, while the North Korean nuclear issue is being resolved through the US-DPRK summit. The September 19th Military Agreement is a modest but remarkable success in arms control history when compared with a long-term stalemate or even retreat in the contemporary international arms control arena. Indeed, arms control is at its lowest point in history, so dim are its prospects. Nevertheless, heated debates are taking place, both at home inside South Korea and abroad, over the legitimacy and rationality of the Sept. 19th Military Agreement. With little progress on the denuclearisation issue at the Kim-Trump summit and no sign of easing economic sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korea has test-fired short-range missiles ten times to exert pressure on the United States, undermining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Against this backdrop, this policy brief intends to analyse the true meaning of the September 19 Military Agreement between the two Koreas, to identify its problems and policy implications in order to draw up supplementary measures to implement it successfully. Furthermore, the paper will draw some implications for the relationship between progress on North Korea’s denuclearisation issue and further conventional arms control on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Van Jackson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: While the reasons for seeking North Korean denuclearization are sensible, continuing to pursue that goal makes the United States and its allies less secure. In word and deed, North Korea has shown it has no interest in nuclear disarmament. Because denuclearization is antithetical to Kim Jong Un’s bottom line, U.S. attempts at diplomacy to that end are self-sabotaging. As long as disarmament of North Korea remains America’s professed goal, Kim Jong Un has every incentive either to avoid the negotiating process or favorably manipulate it at America’s expense—by stalling for time, making unfulfilled promises, and securing concessions without reciprocity. Worse, as the 2017 nuclear confrontation showed, making denuclearization an actionable goal of U.S. policy creates real risks of crisis instability—justifying extreme measures and extreme rhetoric in the name of what has become an extreme aim. But policymakers can avoid the pitfalls of the past by attempting something more realistic than denuclearization—an arms control approach to North Korea. The United States has significant unexploited margin to take diplomatic and political risks aimed at probing and potentially shifting North Korea’s approach to its nuclear arsenal. An arms control approach would seek to reorient U.S. North Korea policy to prioritize what matters most: reducing the risk of nuclear or conventional war without forsaking other U.S. interests at stake in Korea. Using diplomacy to enhance regional stability and foreclose the possibility of an avoidable nuclear war requires pursuing a negotiated outcome that both sides can accept, and that tests North Korea’s willingness to uphold commitments short of disarmament. U.S. policy often seeks to test North Korean intentions, but without offering the accommodations and concessions that would serve as a meaningful test. Remedying this problem through an arms control approach requires taking considerable unilateral actions consistent with U.S. interests before proceeding to a phased negotiating process.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Risk, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea