Over the past decades, the United States and North Korea have had a frosty policy relationship (Easley, 14). The United States has accused North Korea, formally recognized as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), of continuing to advance its nuclear program. According to the United States, North Korea’s nuclear program is not only a threat to America’s allies, such as South Korea and Japan, but also to the United States mainland (Ghitis, 5). More specifically, the United States has made deliberate efforts to curb the development of a Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) by the North, which it fears poses the greatest threats to American citizens.
On this note, the United States foreign policy with North Korea must be looked at in the context of its allies within the Korean peninsula. Besides security interests in this region, the United States has economic interests as well. In this way, nuclear attack by the North to its allies will negatively affect America’s massive investment in the peninsula (Easley, 21). On its side, North Korea accuses the United States of meddling in the peninsula’s economic, regional, social, and security affairs.
According to North Korea, it is pretentious for the United States to prevent the North from developing its nuclear program. Yet, America and several countries have nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, North Korea has accused America of pushing for economic sanctions, which are aimed to prevent the nuclear program (Farago, 1136). Based on these key issues, the foreign policy between the United States and North Korea has gotten worse over the years.
The following discussion wishes to highlight some of the critical issues between the United States and North Korean relations and the reasons for changes in the U.S. policy. In addition to that, the pros and cons of each of the several options for policy changes and the best option out of those for the United States, will be showcased. The objective of this discussion is to show that although there are several options available, diplomatic process remains to be the most viable solution to the United States and North Korea foreign policy.
As noted, both the United States and North Korea have issues that have negatively influenced their poor relationship. The tension in the Korean peninsula rose when an international investigative report revealed that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the warship from South Korea (Easley, 26). The Korean War and the nuclear program development by the North have made both the South and the North become long term enemies.
On this basis, the United States consider North Korea as the greatest threat to its allies and its interests in the peninsula. Therefore, the United States’ concern is the consistent threat posed by the nuclear program (Farago, 1135). Connectedly, America has taken the position that peace and stability of the region, as well as its relationship with North Korea, can only be achieved if the North stops its nuclear program. In addition to that, the United States is alarmed by the North’s intention of developing a ICBM, which is to strike America’s mainland.
On the other hand, North Korea is determined to continue with its nuclear program (Easley, 23). The intention is to not only become a nuclear state and be recognized as such by the international community, but to also use such weapons to strike and defend itself from its enemies, especially the United States. The DPRK has raised concerns over America’s intention to strike its territory. Therefore, North Korea sees the United States and its allies as its enemies. Another concerning issue includes the direct sanctions imposed by American administration and through the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which the North interprets as an attempt to interfere with its sovereignty (Habib 50).
Despite the efforts made by the United States in preventing the North from continuing with its nuclear program, it is clear that the past approaches have not worked. In fact, recent events such as testing the long range and intercontinental missiles have shown that North Korea is in the process of becoming a nuclear state (Easley, 24). Furthermore, the economic sanctions by the United States and United Nations have not significantly affected the program.
According to experts, such economic sanctions are negatively affecting the poor citizens in the DPRK, whose life has become economically unbearable (Squassoni, 374). In addition, the continued threats by leaders from North Korea and America have only raised tension in the Korean peninsula. These reasons are some of the reasons why there is a need to review the United States policy and strategy toward solving the North Korean problem.
In reference to the observations mentioned, several options have been considered. By solving the North Korean nuclear program issue, one of the options that are widely mentioned is the launching of a military intervention (Minnich, 36). The main advantage of striking nuclear sites, installation and any other specific targets is that the United States will be making its intention clear, that North Korea must stop the nuclear program. However, it must be noted that North Korea has nuclear weapons, which they will apply if they are attacked (Easley, 19). The resulting outcome is that millions of lives could be lost. Such action will affect not only the neighboring countries, but also the rest of the world.
Another option would be to not get involved at all, thus maintaining the status quo (Easley, 13). The status quo is that North Korea will be allowed to continue with its nuclear program and the United States and its allies in the peninsula will remain the North’s first enemies. The current economic sanctions will continue being in place, which, as stated, may not stop North Korea from advancing its nuclear program. The main disadvantage to such a step is that due to the aggressive nature of the North Korean leadership, the use of nuclear weapons could take place anytime in the future.
Imposing more sanctions is another option to the North Korea nuclear program. However, it is clear that more sanctions will not make a difference (Easley, 15). According to foreign policy experts, North Korean president, Kim, would let his citizens eat grass in order to keep his nuclear weapons (Minnich, 35). Therefore, placing more sanctions will make matters worse by negatively affecting North Korean people, instead of solving the current stalemate.
Consequently, applying more of a diplomatic approach is the most suitable option. Of course, it will not only solve the problem with the North Korean nuclear program, but it will also improve the relationship between United States and DPRK.
Notably, experts have warned that the current rhetoric between the United States and North Korea will lead to war that might end up causing massive property destruction and loss of lives. Although negotiation talks are often raised time and again, there are no deliberate efforts to bring the two nations and their allies together (Easley, 11). In embracing the need to have a diplomatic talk, it would be vital to explore what each party has to accept or to concede.
Over the years, the United States’ debate over policy options toward DPRK has suffered from failure to have candor on all sides. Apparently, calling for military strikes, such as those conducted in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan is a way of showing Washington’s inability to use a wide range of diplomatic options. The policymakers in the United States need to understand that based on the inevitable retaliation from the North and the mass casualties that will occur, the option of military use should not be on the table (Squassoni, 373).
In the diplomatic efforts, a “freeze for freeze” approach should be incorporated. In this approach, North Korea should stop nuclear and missile tests, while the United States should halt its military exercises with the South. The U.S should convey to the DPRK and the international community that it is ready to talk without preconditions. However, other countries such as South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia must be involved, as was the case in the Six-Party model (Cossa 28). This model should only be used as formal mechanism of guiding the diplomatic talks.
However, the real responsibility should be left to Pyongyang and Washington (Habib 50). While the direct talk between these two nations continues, close allies such as Japan and South Korean should play a supporting role. On its side, China should be encouraged to convince Pyongyang in halting its nuclear tests and the willingness of Washington to have a peaceful Korean peninsula.
Summarized to a conclusion, it is clear that the poor relationship between United States and North Korea is exacerbated by the North’s nuclear program. Notably, the United States fears that North Korea could strike its allies and its mainland. Meanwhile, the DPRK is concerned about America’s interference with its sovereignty. In solving the current stalemate, some of the options highlighted include military action, more sanctions, not getting involved, and diplomatic process. Among these options stated, a diplomatic solution is the most suitable option since it will avoid mass causalities, destruction of property and displacements while halting the nuclear program.