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News Releases on Asia

July 9, 2001

July 9, 2001 | News Releases on Asia

Bush Should Use Firm Measures in Talks With N. Korea, Analyst Says

WASHINGTON, Jul. 9, 2001-A new Heritage Foundation paper suggests several ways President Bush can better resolve conflicts with North Korea, which recently conducted an engine test of a long-range missile that can directly threaten several U.S. allies.

Since the 1990s, the United States has taken a carrot-and-stick approach with the communist nation "with North Korea getting mostly carrot and the United States getting mostly stick," says Heritage Northeast Asia policy analyst Balbina Hwang. As a result, she writes, U.S.-North Korean relations frequently reached the point of "crisis management."

"North Korea remains a totalitarian regime that poses significant military and possible nuclear threats to the United States and its allies," she says. To restore balance to the relationship -- and prevent future crises -- Hwang urges the Bush administration to be prepared to use the "stick" against North Korea more often than the Clinton administration did.

To begin with, the Bush administration should work out a treaty declaring the Korean War over. Although an armistice was signed in 1953, no formal agreement was reached to end the conflict, which pitted China and North Korea against the United Nations, led by the United States. Hwang says a treaty among all four parties would be a "significant confidence-building measure" and should be "a precondition of any future agreements." Hwang also suggests that U.S. officials:

  • Press North Korea to reduce the threat posed by its army. An estimated 13 million people, including 37,000 U.S. troops, are at immediate risk from North Korean military forces near the border of North and South Korea, Hwang notes. The redeployment of North Korean troops away from the border would bolster U.S. confidence in North Korea's desire to resolve issues peacefully.
  • Establish clear standards for continued talks. Working with U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, the administration should establish clear markers for North Korea's compliance with its previous agreements.
  • Prohibit additional financial aid as long as military needs dominate the North's economy. The United States should not support North Korea's membership in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank until its regime can prove that aid will not be diverted to its military, Hwang says.

"The North's recent overtures to the South are indeed a welcome development, but promises unfulfilled can quickly turn hope into practical reservation and distrust," Hwang writes. "The Bush administration is right to couple pragmatic engagement with credible deterrence."

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