‘Diplomacy is dead’: US and allies pressured to devise new plan to fight North Korea’s nukes


The days of trying to “negotiate” North Korea’s nuclear weapons program through diplomacy alone are over, former US ambassador to South Korea and former friend Harry Harris said on Tuesday, saying that the United States and its Pacific allies were to “up our combined game”. in the face of growing threats from Pyongyang.

Speaking at “The Washington Brief”, a monthly forum hosted by the Washington Times Foundation, Mr Harris said it was becoming increasingly clear that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had no intention to abandon its nuclear programs despite years of diplomatic and economic pressure from the United States. United States through the administrations of both parties. His comments come just days after North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast and Mr Kim spoke of an ‘exponential’ expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal over the past the year to come.

The Biden administration and U.S. Pacific allies fear Mr. Kim will soon order another nuclear weapons test, which would be the country’s first since 2017 and a move that would plunge the peninsula and the wider region into turmoil. ‘unknown.

Mr. Harris, the former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said the threat must be taken seriously, and not just in Washington and Seoul.

“Why is North Korea…a challenge to the whole world?” The answer is simple: Kim Jong Un’s missiles are pointing in all directions,” he said. “The North’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and its relentless aggression against the South and the United States should concern us all.”

“I believe our American political objective of negotiating the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear program has served its purpose,” Harris continued. “We need to improve our combined game. Deterrence by appeasement is not deterrence at all.

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The use of direct diplomacy with Mr. Kim reached its peak during the Trump administration, when former President Donald Trump held three unprecedented in-person meetings with the North Korean leader, including a historic joint visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. But those talks did not lead to an agreement to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program or ease US-backed sanctions against the northern economy, and Mr Kim has since stepped up his provocations while ignoring all diplomatic overtures from the Biden administration.

Last year alone, for example, North Korea conducted more than 70 ballistic missile launches.

Experts say any remaining hope of using diplomacy alone to slow Pyongyang’s nuclear program and halt its missile launches is rapidly evaporating.

“Another disappointment for me last year was the failure of the United States and South Korea to induce or coerce … North Korea to resume denuclearization talks,” he said. said Alexander Mansourov, a professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Tuesday’s event, hosted by former CIA official and longtime US diplomatic adviser Joseph DeTrani.

“The way it seems to me now, diplomacy is dead,” Mr Mansourov said. “I don’t see any prospect of resuming the Six-Party Talks, to be honest, and any other initiative.”

The Six Party Talks were multilateral negotiations involving the United States, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Russia and China. The initiative ended more than a decade ago.

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But Pyongyang’s missile tests are not the only source of concern on the Korean peninsula. North Korean drones have also crossed the DMZ and entered South Korea in recent weeks, raising fears that a direct conflict between the two nations could be approaching.

Mr Harris said the United States and South Korea needed to strengthen their defensive systems to counter these unmanned craft.

“All drone warfare systems must be in place in [South] Korea,” he said. “We clearly need to have them there, and the rules of engagement need to be discussed and played out at war so that commanders on the ground at the tactical level know how to react and not have to ask for clearances, which could take hours, if not days, to get in. And by then, it’s too late.

Even as the United States and South Korea work together to counter Pyongyang, confusion emerged this week over whether the two nations could hold joint nuclear exercises. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol reportedly said earlier this week that such exercises were being discussed, as well as a broader discussion.

President Biden dismissed that idea on Monday, offering a one-word answer when asked by reporters if the United States was considering joint nuclear exercises with Seoul.
“No,” Mr. Biden said.

A spokesman for Mr Yoon said the president’s words had been misinterpreted and said that instead of exercises the two allies were ‘discussing information sharing, joint planning and execution plans regarding the exploitation of American nuclear assets, in order to counter the nuclear attack by North Korea”. threats.”



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