When discussing American policy on North Korea, Robert Joseph likes to cite the aphorism that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
This is the insight at the heart of a recent paper from the National Institute for Public Policy, which calls for a dramatic shift on North Korean policy. It is time to let go of the “false hope that the Kim family regime will relinquish its nuclear weapons through negotiation if only we can find the right mix of carrots and sticks,” says Mr. Joseph, lead author of the report and undersecretary of state for arms control and national security in the George W. Bush administration.
Since the 1990s the American goal has been to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program. After 30 years of diplomacy under presidents of both parties, Pyongyang’s nuclear program is stronger than ever. When negotiations between the two countries began in the 1990s, North Korea’s nuclear program was in its infancy. Today Pyongyang has 40 to 60 nuclear weapons, and missile tests indicate that it may be able to deliver nukes to any American city. Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump all followed the same pattern: Negotiate, make concessions, sit back and watch North Korea build more bombs and ballistic missiles.