Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have vexed US policy makers for generations. But for American citizens, problems of stability on the peninsula, and North Korean threats to its neighbors were problems over there. Not anymore. North Korea’s dual advances in nuclear weapons and intercontinental delivery systems are edging the situation toward profound. Ever since the term proliferation of weapons of mass destruction entered the lexicon, we have dreaded the idea of a dangerous, wildly unpredictable state—seemingly impervious to sanction—acquiring the capability to hold the US homeland hostage. Yet, that time is approaching. North Korea may be a few years off, as it still needs to perfect its long-range ballistic missiles and miniaturize a nuclear warhead on its cone, but strategic thresholds have been crossed, and we appear no closer to solving the problem.
The Trump administration must have a cogent, extremely well-executed approach if we are to have the chance for some success. This issue brief by Todd Rosenblum addresses the hard questions of deep trade-offs with Pyongyang and the considerations for managing the Korean conundrum.