2021: Peace Network Newsletter Issue 2021-6

Peace Network Korea
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Peace Network

Peace Network Newsletter, 2021-6 
Small steps, Road to peace

The Biden administration clarified that the U.S. will "review" its North Korea policy and suggest a "new strategy." This comes from the recognition that the North Korea nuclear problem has become worse across administrations. In this regard, Secretary of State Tony Blinken emphasized two points: the first one was to look for "the most effective tools to advance the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," and the second was to "deal with the growing problem, posed by North Korea's arsenal." As for the tools, he mentioned "additional coordination and cooperation with allies and partners" and "diplomatic incentives." He did not make any specific comments on actions against North Korean threats, but it seems that measures to fortify the South Korea-Japan-U.S. military cooperation centering around a combined missile defense (MD) system will be advanced. However, if the Biden administration undertakes North Korea policy in this way, it is likely to be a repetition of failure as such measures are no different from previous ones, ignoring North Korea's new strategies.

The key tools that the former U.S.' administrations used were to impose economic sanctions and to strengthen military deterrence and MD, which turned out to be the most ineffective tools. While the U.S. grappled with the "uncertain hope" that increasing sanctions, the North would concede or collapse, North Korea has reinforced its nuclear capability. As the U.S. intensified MD and deterrence against North Korea with its allies like South Korea and Japan, North Korea responded to it in a way to fortify its war deterrence including nuclear and missile capabilities. North Korea's approach became more explicit in recent years. The North argues that yielding to sanctions was like "selling the dignity of the nation," and clarified that it will take sanctions as "a golden opportunity" to develop "self-reliance and self-sufficiency." Moreover, the North expressed the intention to develop second-strike capabilities to strengthen its deterrence and to seek new weapons for neutralizing the US-led missile defense.

In this circumstance, could the additional sanctions that Blinken mentioned be effective tools? Would not the enforcement of military cooperation with South Korea and Japan inflame an arms race and security dilemma, which is already precarious? If the Biden administration is to review preceding North Korea policy and make a new one, it ought not to repeat the already failed policy but to learn from it. For sanctions to be the most effective tool, the U.S. rather needs to mitigate and relieve sanctions and mediate positive measures with North Korea, and it can build up "sympathy" between the U.S. and the North. Moreover, to make North Korea consider giving up its "nuclear deterrence," the U.S. and its allies should restrain their military build-ups. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan already have the powerful capacity to deter North Korea's military provocation.

Now is time to refrain from any further military build-up and to revive the hope for the denuclearization of and a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. should spend economic resource gaining from the arms reduction for domestic issues and other global issues, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
(source: The Korea Times)

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