For diplomacy to work, the north has to participate. Mr. Armstrong's conclusion is completely logical from the point of view of the ROK, China, Japan, Russia and the US. Unfortunately the Kim Family Regime does not have a similar view and since it has never conducted diplomacy in accordance with any acceptable international standard for the last 60 years I am not optimistic it will at any time in the future. Certainly the actions of Kim Jong-un and the regime over the past year have reinforced that. Actions speak louder than words (although north Korean propaganda is pretty loud too). But it is better to jaw jaw than war war.
So, where do we go from here? The United States and the United Nations have little choice but to impose sanctions in response to North Korea’s actions, which clearly violate earlier sanction conditions. But it is hard to see how such sanctions can deter a determined and defiant North Korea, especially if the sanctions are not rigorously enforced. The best we can hope for is that the latest confrontation will finally bring all sides together – including both Koreas, the United States, China, Russia, and Japan – to solve this issue.
Diplomacy, not threats or sanctions – and certainly not military action – is the only viable path to resolution.V/R
January 25th, 2013
11:59 AM ET
By Charles Armstrong, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Charles Armstrong is the director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. The views expressed are his own.
Anyone who has followed North Korean affairs for the last several years (or the last two decades) could have predicted North Korea’s defiant response to the U.N. Security Council resolution this week condemning North Korea’s rocket launch last December and strengthening international sanctions against Pyongyang. But it should also be clear by now that while carrots only occasionally deter North Korea’s provocative behavior, sticks – whether in the form of sanctions or threats of military action – only make North Korea defiant and more bellicose.
In 1994, the first time the United States proposed taking the North Korean nuclear question to the United Nations, North Korea announced that any impositions of U.N. sanctions would be considered “an act of war.” In 2006, and again in 2009, North Korea responded to U.N. sanctions not by giving up missiles and nukes, but ratcheting up the rhetoric. In the past, promises of security and economic aid have persuaded Pyongyang to freeze or reduce its missile and nuclear programs: North Korea halted its plutonium program for eight years following an agreement with the United States in 1994, adhered to a voluntary moratorium on missile tests from 1998 to 2006, and shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in 2007 as part of a multilateral agreement. The record may not be terribly encouraging, but carrots do occasionally work.
Much has been made of the fact that North Korea this week directed its threats specifically against the United States (before issuing a warning to South Koreaearlier today), calling America its “sworn enemy” and claiming that its would “target” the United States with its weapons. But this too is nothing new. North Korea has for years denounced America’s “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang and has long insisted that its nuclear program is designed to defend the country against an American attack. North Korea’s ability to strike American territory with missiles is questionable, and North Korea almost certainly lacks the technological capability to mount a nuclear weapon on a missile. Neither side is willing to back down, but threats and sanctions are unlikely to resolve the key issues dividing them.
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