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Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea

North Korea
The BriefGet Up To Speed

How should the United States respond to North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear capabilities? Some experts suggest the upcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un might provide a pivotal diplomatic opportunity to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons – especially in light of the announcement of harsh new sanctions. But others are more pessimistic, arguing that we’ve been down this road before and that denuclearizing North Korea is more of a pipedream than a legitimate strategic goal. Can Trump and Kim strike a deal to halt North Korea’s nuclear aggression? Or will the talks inevitably fail, heightening tensions and increasing the likelihood of fatal miscalculations? Presented in partnership with Georgetown University, presented LIVE at the first Georgetown University Women’s Forum.


A brief account of U.S.-North Korea relations going back to World War II and the Korean War.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Adam Jezard

An overview of the worsening North Korean threat. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

“North Korea claims that it can mount miniaturised nuclear warheads on its missiles, but these claims have not been independently verified.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“Since the early 1990s, successive U.S. Presidents have faced the question of whether to negotiate with the North Korean government to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear program and ambitions.”

Monday, December 4, 2017
Mary Beth D. Nikitin, Emma Chanlett-Avery and Mark E. Manyin

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States now has 450 sanctions against North Korea, half of which have come in the last year.”

Sunday, February 25, 2018

“The North has been accused of using false paperwork to continue coal exports and of importing oil through illegal ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018
Choe Sang-Hun

“John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, said Trump should insist that any meeting he holds with North Korea’s leader must be focused squarely on how to eliminate that country’s nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

For Mike Pompeo, the goal is the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Uri Friedman

“Pompeo returned to Washington with enough assurance that North Korea was prepared to negotiate over the future of its nuclear weapons program that the White House decided summit talks were worthwhile, according to the people familiar with the meeting.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Karoun Demirjian & Shane Harris
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Choe Sang-Hun and Mark Landler

“What does ‘denuclearization’ mean? It depends on whom you are asking.”

Monday, April 9, 2018
Anna Fifield
For the Motion

“A comprehensive coercive strategy for denuclearization diplomacy would build on the strengths of the maximum-pressure campaign while more fully leveraging the support and resources of regional allies and partners in pursuing shared long-term goals.”

Sunday, April 1, 2018
Victor Cha and Katrin Fraser Katz

“Trump carries no historical baggage, and his decisiveness, even if rooted in impulsiveness, could provide the necessary breakthrough to overcome decades of accumulated inertia.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Ramesh Thakur

“North Korea’s system might look bizarre to us from the outside, but the Kims are the ultimate political survivors, hard-edged rationalists whose actions have always had a clear purpose: keeping the family in power. Seeing them as madmen is not only wrong, but also dangerous.”

Friday, April 20, 2018
Andrei Lankov

“The United States has an array of ways to ratchet up pressure on China to force North Korea to denuclearize — ranging from tougher trade sanctions to denying visas to thousands of Chinese students and property holders.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018
Victor Davis Hanson

Gen. McMaster argues, “If North Korea has a nuclear weapon, who are you going to try to prevent getting one? Look at the regime, the hostility of this regime to the whole world.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
John Haltiwanger

“In his New Year’s speech, Kim openly signaled that harder times were coming. If China, his largest trading partner, holds firm, Kim faces looming constraints in the form of declining access to much-needed foreign exchange.”

Friday, April 6, 2018
Stephan M. Haggard
Against the Motion

“What should Trump do after seven decades of North Korean aggression? Ratchet up the embargo of North Korea. Do not give it any aid — no matter the pleas and threats. Put more pressure on China. Do not barter with Pyongyang until it is proven that it has no more nukes.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Victor Davis Hanson

“Trump may picture himself a master negotiator, but off-the-cuff proposals from a candidate who did not understand the nuclear triad and continues to disdain details can mean strategic disaster for the United States and its allies.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018
Michael Rubin

“No state that has developed nuclear weapons has been willing to part with them. Pyongyang certainly won’t be the first to do so.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Rajan Menon

“The prospects for any diplomatic breakthrough are clouded by senior State Department vacancies, including a permanent U.S. ambassador to South Korea.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
John W. Schoen

“Here’s where the nukes come into play. Pyongyang believes they’re the best, and possibly only, deterrent against evaporation, absorption, or annihilation.”

Thursday, September 7, 2017
Michael Schuman

“The value of the North Korean currency, the won, has been steady … So, too, the prices for basics such as rice and corn.”

Monday, March 26, 2018
Peter Whoriskey
In the Neighborhood

“China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner and arguably has the most leverage on Kim Jong-un’s regime. But while Beijing appears willing to condemn its neighbor’s nuclear developments, analysts say its cautious policies remain focused on stability.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Eleanor Albert

“While the visit provides benefits going forward for Pyongyang, the big winner here is China.”

Friday, March 30, 2018
J Berkshire Miller

“For South Korea, removing nuclear weapons from the peninsula and striking a deal for ‘eternal’ peace ‘is what everyone has dreamed of, but hasn’t accomplished yet.’”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Kanga Kong

“Mr Kim became the first North Korean president to watch a performance by artists from the South.”

Sunday, April 1, 2018

“A North Korea that shrivels under harsh sanctions is not an acceptable option for Moscow. To allow such a scenario would be to admit its own vulnerability to similar measures.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Hannah Thoburn

“From Tokyo’s perspective, the problem on the Korean Peninsula is not simply that Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities are growing; it is also that Kim blatantly desires to demonstrate those capabilities, and to do so at the expense of Japanese security.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Sheila A. Smith
Kim Jong-un

“Kim may genuinely want to mend relations with Washington in order to improve the livelihoods of his 25 million subjects, and … Kim might agree to denuclearize in exchange for a mutual defense treaty signed by Pyongyang’s four influential neighbors–Russia, China, South Korea and Japan–that’s ratified by the U.N. and also passed by an act of Congress and signed by Trump.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

“North Korea is what we at the CIA called ‘the hardest of the hard targets.’ A former CIA analyst once said that trying to understand North Korea is like working on a ‘jigsaw puzzle when you have a mere handful of pieces and your opponent is purposely throwing pieces from other puzzles into the box.’”

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Jung H. Pak
Preemptive Strike & Prospects of War

“Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute. That would risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
John Bolton

“There is a reason that, even as North Korea’s weapons programs have passed red line after red line, the United States has never followed through. Almost any plan would bring a high risk of unintended escalation to all-out war, analysts believe.”

Saturday, March 18, 2017
Max Fisher

“There is a genuine risk of a war on the Korean Peninsula that would involve the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Several estimated that millions — plural — would die.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Yochi Dreazen

What happens if the North Korean regime – or government – collapses? And what happens to its nuclear arsenal? 

Friday, April 20, 2018
Harry Kazianis
Inside North Korea

Nicholas Kristof and Carol Giacomo go inside North Korea and interview students, civilians and government and military officials. 

Friday, March 9, 2018
Adam B. Ellick, John Woo and Jonah M. Kessel

“As tensions between North Korea and the U.S. mount, curiosity about what life is like there has increased.”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Heather Brady
“Around 700 U.S. and Korean soldiers are stationed at the area. Nearby is the small farming village of Taesung, with less than 200 people — the only South Korean settlement inside the DMZ and 500 yards from the border. On the other side is the North Korean village of Kijong, a largely uninhabited scattering of buildings that often blares propaganda speeches and patriotic songs.”
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Thomas Maresca
Suki Kim

Suki Kim’s “perspective is valuable and rare; few Americans have spent much time on the ground there.”

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Suki Kim talks about living and working undercover in North Korea for six months.

Monday, June 8, 2015
“Suki Kim describes going undercover to teach at a private school in North Korea in her book ‘Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite.’”
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“For the regime, good looks are just another asset that citizens are obliged to wield on behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — no surprise there.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Suki Kim argues, “People so easily compare North Korea to Cuba or East Germany or even China. But none of them have been like North Korea – this amount of isolation, this amount of control. It encompasses every aspect of dictatorship-slash-cult.”
Monday, September 4, 2017

Suki Kim argues, “Kim Jong Un’s reign of terror suggests an escalating paranoia, which goes hand in hand with the fear at the root of North Korean society.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

“[Suki] Kim clearly believes the good knowledge can do outweighs the risk. Her memoir, if nothing else, is a reminder of the costs of such work. Her portraits of her students are tender and heartbreaking, highlighting the enormity of what is at stake.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

“‘The Interpreter” is one of those titles, much like ‘The Stranger’ or ‘The Passenger,’ that immediately connote a state of moody suspension.”

Sunday, January 26, 2003