March 06, 2018

Can South Korea Really Defuse the North's Nuclear Threat?

By Patrick M. Cronin

South Korea’s high-powered envoys sent to Pyongyang to prepare for a possible summit have apparently extracted from Kim Jong Un’s regime an idea that many on the outside assume is impossible: that North Korea might be willing to give up nuclear weapons altogether. Even if that is the case, the path to denuclearization with will be long and tortuous. The more immediate question is how to pursue both North-South and North Korean-U.S. diplomatic tracks after the Paralympics in Pyeongchang.

Olympic Games hosted by South Korea in 1988 and 2018 bookend the period when North Korea went from owning a plutonium research reactor and short-range missile program to potentially joining the handful of actors capable of fielding nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Kim Jong Un is feeling emboldened, declaring his determination to mass produce strategic weapons to threaten the United States, even as he sent his younger sister to the Winter Games to highlight his newfound desire for peace with South Korea. Reports out of Pyongyang suggesting Kim might be willing to relinquish nuclear weapons in exchange for new security guarantees, opens up new hope for negotiation.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

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