Insights and Analysis

What if North Korea Says No?

July 22, 2009

By Scott Snyder

“The premise underlying the question of what do we do if North Korea says no is that we are still waiting for a North Korean answer…. It is North Korea’s pursuit of escalation that has foreclosed dialogue possibilities for now as Pyongyang, for a variety of domestic and international reasons, attempts to lock in its nuclear status as a fait accompli.

Parenthetically, the groundwork has not yet been laid for a return to dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Although Obama administration officials may believe that they have clearly signaled a willingness to return to the negotiation table and perceive North Korea as having rejected the opportunity for talks, North Korea may believe that the Obama administration has not yet opened the door to dialogue….

China faces the most difficult choices as it deals with a North Korea that tries to say “no” to international efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. North Korean actions have effectively demonstrated that China continues to delude itself into thinking it can choose between stability and denuclearization in North Korea, when in fact the desperate attempts of the North Korean leadership to maintain political control are inherently destabilizing….”

Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He recently spoke at an Atlantic Council and Korea Economic Institute of America-sponsored event on U.S. policy alternatives in the event that North Korea refuses to return to dialogue. A full write-up is posted on Global Security. Below is an excerpt. Read Vanity for Snyder’s comments on North Korea’s leadership. He can be reached at [email protected].

Related locations: Korea
Related topics: Center for U.S.-Korea Policy, North Korea


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