Monday, March 14, 2016

North Korea is a nuclear power. Here's why the world just has to live with it.

Given North Korea's unabated nuclear development, is it time to reassess that 1991 decision? Re-installing the weapons would raise a host of additional issues: Would deployment enhance deterrence or make Pyongyang more trigger happy? Would it provide Seoul enough reassurance to eliminate any inclination to go nuclear? Or is offshore deployment enough?
Then, there is the matter of Beijing's response. Would the return of the bomb to South Korean soil prompt a major dustup in Sino-U.S. relations? Or would it demonstrate Washington's commitment to assure the security of all its East Asian allies?
These open questions deserve robust public debate in the United States and South Korea. But so does another matter, now even more off the radar. Is it time for the United States to reach out to North Korea, to formally concede what it cannot change - namely that North Korea is a nuclear-armed nation - not as any favor to the Stalinist regime but to generate a quid pro quo, the establishment of official liaison offices in the two countries' capitals? This would put in place a permanent face-to-face communication link to defuse the risk of war should tensions mount.

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