Analysts Say Biden Admin Should Engage With No. Korea Soon

North Korea is a bigger missile threat than Russia, China or Iran, says a top US official. The official warns that there’s a “real possibility” North Korea would actually launch a missile toward Americans.

NK News

Despite a host of pressing domestic issues, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden should take the initiative in restarting diplomacy with North Korea as soon as possible, analysts said during a webinar on Wednesday.

The webinar was co-hosted by Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Stimson Center and the Seoul-based Sejong Institute.

The analysts agreed that a reciprocal step-by-step process that would allow for denuclearization and a peace process to proceed in phases is a more realistic strategy.

“I would contend that there’s a very strong case to be made for starting a process with the North Koreans earlier rather than later,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think it’s better to take the initiative before the North Koreans make a provocative move.”

DiMaggio pointed to the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, which was placed on the defensive when North Korea made a series of aggressive gestures including a nuclear test in May 2009, just months after Obama was inaugurated.

“The more we kick this can down the road, the more advanced their arsenal becomes and the more limited our options become,” DiMaggio said. “It’s better to be proactive than reactive.”

Hwang Ji-hwan, a professor at the University of Seoul, said the Biden administration should reject the Obama-era stance toward North Korea, a low-engagement approach, which was characterized as “strategic patience,” noting Pyongyang’s increased nuclear and missile capabilities.

“North Korea is no longer a remote threat,” said Hwang. “So, North Korea now should be a top national security priority. Strategic patience will not work for Biden.”