News / Asia

Report: More Urgency Needed in Washington's Approach to North Korea

A bipartisan task force of former U.S. officials and experts is urging the U.S. government to do more to actively resolve issues with North Korea.  

A Council on Foreign Relations sponsored task force has released a report saying the Obama administration should take a more aggressive approach in its North Korea policy.

A former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea and co-chair of the task force, Charles Pritchard, says that while the administration has handled North Korea relatively well, the task force did find fault with the approach that Obama administration officials have dubbed "strategic patience."

"There is a risk involved, if you continue down that line, that these very very serious issues with regard to North Korea - you risk turning them into a never ending, never resolved issue," said Charles Pritchard.

Pritchard says that this is why the task force is recommending Washington take a more targeted approach.

North Korea's actions in the past two years - including the launch of missiles and a second nuclear test - have increased tensions in the region. It has refused to return to six-party talks on ending its nuclear program that include China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

More recently, it has been accused of sinking a South Korean warship, in which 46 sailors were killed.  At the U.N. on Tuesday, the North Korean ambassador denied involvement in the sinking incident and warned his government's military could respond if the U.N. Security Council takes action against Pyongyang.   

The council's report said the United States should focus on three areas with regard to North Korea; preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technologies from the communist nation to other countries or groups; stopping the build-up of North Korea's missile arsenal; and de-nuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

The report lists North Korea's missile development program as an urgent issue, and recommends the United States hold bilateral talks with Pyongyang on that issue.

Balbina Hwang at the National Defense University in Washington says that just as North Korea's nuclear program requires an international response, so does North Korea's missile program.

"Now, what worries me here is that essentially they seem to be saying to go back and revive where we left off in the 1990s because the Clinton administration approach was a bilateral approach," said Balbina Hwang. "And I think that was one of the problems - that uniquely bilateral approach, I think, is not the best way to address the issue."

However, Hwang says that after reviewing the report's recommendations, she does not see new or creative approaches to dealing with North Korea.

The report recommends two options - one that seeks to better manage the problem and another that calls for the administration to consistently press North Korea to return to the path of denuclearization.

Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow on Korea Studies Scott Snyder says the report recommends the use of diplomatic tools, in coordination with regional support and coercive measures.

"Another strand of the report suggests that we should do what we can to enable internally driven change, transformation in North Korea, as the best possible way to achieve the goal of integration of North Korea with the rest of northeast Asia," said Scott Snyder.

Members of the task force also stressed the importance of stepping up efforts to engage China on North Korea.

Pritchard says one area where the U.S. could engage China more is in its response to the allegations North Korea sunk the South Korean warship in March.

Pritchard says Chinese support of the punishment of North Korea over the incident is a litmus test for Beijing.

"We have to watch that play out," he said. "If the Chinese do not step up, it is indication there, that they are in fact supporting the actions of North Korea.  I do not think that that is the message the Chinese want to send."

China has downplayed the incident and focused on avoiding further escalation.  Beijing is North Korea's major political ally and its most important source of food and energy.  

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs