Heritage expert Bruce Klingner recently testified in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to suggest new policy approaches toward North Korea.
Klingner, a senior research fellow in Heritage's Asian Studies Center, spoke with members of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity about the growing threat from North Korea.
“The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is dire and worsening,” Klingner said. “North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities are already an existential threat to South Korea and Japan and will soon be a direct threat to the continental United States.”
Klingner argued that policy approaches from past administrations have failed. Preemptive military attacks by the U.S. could lead to an all-out war with “catastrophic consequences,” while a return to failed negotiations with North Koreans would result in little utility for the U.S.
“Dialogue requires a willing partner. But, by word and deed, North Korea has repeatedly and emphatically shown it has no intention of abandoning its nuclear weapons,” Klingner said.
Klingner further argued against any economic inducements to entice North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal.
Instead, Klingner told the subcommittee while there is no easy solutions to the long-standing North Korean problem, the best plan would be to implement “comprehensive, rigorous, and sustained international pressure strategy.”
“Such a policy upholds U.S. laws and UN resolutions, imposes a penalty on those that violate them, puts in place measures to make it more difficult for North Korea to import components— including money from illicit activities — or its prohibited nuclear and missile programs, and further constrain proliferation,” Klingner said.
“Little change will occur until North Korea is effectively sanctioned, and China becomes concerned over the consequences of Pyongyang’s actions and its own obstructionism.”
Klingner’s experience in North Korean affairs is extensive. He joined Heritage in 2007 after 20 years of service the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency serving in various roles related to North Korea’s military advancements.
Klingner is a frequent commentator on U.S. and foreign media and has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.