A Nuclear Fission: The North Korea Debate in Washington

By Cha, Victor | Harvard International Review, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

A Nuclear Fission: The North Korea Debate in Washington


Cha, Victor, Harvard International Review


It has been widely speculated that there is a debate within the administration of US President George Bush regarding policy toward North Korea. At one end are the Pentagon hawks who prefer some form of regime change as the most ideal, effective, and enduring solution. As Maureen Dowd of the New York Times commented on April 21, 2003, the hawkish camp led by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld generally includes US Vice President Dick Cheney, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, New York Times writer William Satire, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, the Defense Policy Board (including Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Harry Rowen), and the US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton.

At the other end of the debate on North Korea are the moderates led by US Secretary of State Colin Powell. They believe that disarmament of North Korea is best achieved through continued discussion. Members of this group do not believe that US engagement will change North Korean intentions. Yet they argue that talks with North Korea will bring about a negotiated settlement and will build a coalition among concerned countries for taking action if engagement fails. Individuals in the "Powell camp" include Director of Policy Planning Richard Haass, most of the US Foreign Service, US Senator Joe Biden, political journalist Bob Woodward, and many in the liberal media and academic elite.

The split in views on North Korea became particularly apparent during the US-Sino-North Korea talks in Beijing in August 2003. Pyongyang's 11th-hour threat to reprocess plutonium led to vigorous internal debates about possible countermeasures. Those in the Powell group advocated continuing the talks. Those in the hawkish group opposed US attendance at the talks and, after the decision to attend was made, tried to replace James Kelly, US Assistant Secretary of State and leader of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with John Bolton as the US delegation head.

While policy gaps on North Korea clearly exist, they are not nearly as wide as the press suggests. Both parties involved agree that the United States should not tolerate North Korea's blackmail attempts, and that Pyongyang needs to come clean on its nuclear weapons programs before any form of engagement can be considered. Where differences do lie are in how one should define "coming clean." While Pentagon hawks might demand total disarmament before serious engagement, others are considering more flexible requirements for negotiations to start. The bottom line is that both groups demand real, immediate, and irreversible steps by North Korea toward disarmament.

Both groups are concerned about North Korea's admission of April 2003 to chief US negotiator James Kelly, that it possesses nuclear weapons. Pundits wrote off the admission, because it only confirmed what intelligence estimates had suspected for some time. Advocates of engagement with North Korea saw its nuclear confession as an almost desperate cry for negotiation. They reasoned that North Korea had put its weapons on the bargaining table in exchange for US security assurances and international aid. In spite of these assessments, I believe that both groups saw that Pyongyang's nuclear confession brought it one step closer to recognition as a nuclear state, one of North Korea's major goals.

It is widely agreed that the premeditated nature of the nuclear weapons admission, which was made on the first day of meetings, fits well with Kim Jong Il's ultimate goal. What North Korea wants is not a simple quid pro quo of nuclear disarmament for US security assurances. What Kim Jong Il really wants is bilateral negotiations with the United States to attain security assurances and international support, and to retain an extant nuclear weapons arsenal.

This suspicion is further confirmed by the North Korean delegation head Li Gun's statements to Kelly at the end of the first day of the Beijing talks. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Nuclear Fission: The North Korea Debate in Washington
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.