"PDP Workshop Explores Strategies for U.S.–North Korea Policy"
Author: Gretchen M. Bartlett, Former Associate Director, Preventive Defense Project, 1997-2009
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Preventive Defense Project
Preventive Defense Project (PDP) Codirectors Ashton Carter and William Perry hosted a workshop in Washington D.C. in July to design a coherent strategy for dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons program. More than 50 experts took part in the workshop at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to explore the diplomatic option and coercive policies if diplomacy should fail.
The diplomatic option (Plan A) could include economic assistance and other incentives that the United States and its allies might offer in exchange for complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament. Coercive policies (Plan B) might include economic sanctions, deterrence and containment, limited military strikes, and invasion with the goal of regime change.
The discussion highlighted critical areas of disagreement, including the desired "end state" of U.S. policy towards North Korea, the respective roles of diplomacy and coercive actions in achieving that end state, and the level of risk the United States should be willing to undertake in crafting and implementing a viable Plan B. The participants broadly agreed that there is essentially no realistic unilateral military option and that any strategy must be long-term in its focus and acceptable to key Asian allies, especially South Korea.
Gretchen Bartlett is Preventive Defense Project associate director.
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