Washington, D.C. — Given political considerations in the United States and South Korea, diplomacy with North Korea is likely unsustainable in the long term, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.
This issue brief explores North Korean, U.S., and South Korean perspectives on engagement and diplomacy and examines barriers in the United States that inhibit the Biden administration from taking a more proactive approach to North Korea.
The Biden administration is reluctant to offer North Korea sanctions relief, and North Korea is similarly unlikely to change its demand for relief. Absent more dramatic North Korean provocations, or a dramatic change in policy on one or both sides, the stalemate over sanctions remains the overwhelming hurdle to diplomacy, the issue brief says.
“The Biden administration is in wait-and-see mode on North Korea,” said Abigail Bard, Asia policy analyst at CAP and co-author of the brief. “It’s willing to engage in discussions about how to get North Korea to the table, but it’s unlikely to make major policy shifts to induce North Korean cooperation without a major provocation from North Korea.”
Upcoming elections in South Korea further cloud any possibility of diplomacy. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is completing the final year of his single five-year term, and the race to succeed him has picked up steam. While the Moon administration has been proactive on engagement with North Korea, there are no promises that the next administration will be.
Read the issue brief: “Prospects for Diplomacy With North Korea,” by Tobias Harris, Abigail Bard, and Haneul Lee
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at email@example.com.