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Research Report

A Framework for Peace and Security in Korea and Northeast Asia

James Goodby
Jack N. Merritt
Donald Gross
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2007
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 58
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. iii-iv)
    Frederick Kempe

    This report continues a series of Atlantic Council studies since the early 1990s that analyze U.S. relations with “adversary states” and recommend measures for improving relations with them to achieve strategic U.S. policy goals. The value of such work was made clear to us in 2004 when U.S. officials, implementing the historic agreement leading Libya to abandon its nuclear weapons program, leaned on our report U.S.-Libyan Relations: Toward Cautious Reengagement. We are currently updating similar work done regarding Cuba for the day improved relations with that country may be possible.

    Few United States foreign policy goals are as important as...

  2. (pp. ix-xii)

    The United States has few more important policy goals than eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The risk that the repressive Pyongyang regime could transfer nuclear weapons and materials to rogue states or terrorist groups weighs particularly heavy on the minds of U.S. policymakers.

    U.S. negotiators in February 2007 achieved a breakthrough in the Six Party talks towards the goal of reversing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. The “joint agreement” – among the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia – set in motion a process for dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. But this agreement still leaves the parties...

  3. (pp. 1-2)

    For more than fifty years, U.S. relations with North Korea have been marked by hostility, misunderstanding and deep mutual suspicion. Along the demilitarized zone (DMZ), U.S. and South Korean forces face off against North Korean long-range artillery and missiles that have the power to devastate Seoul, only thirty-seven miles to the south. North Korean officials and media regularly accuse the U.S. of preparing to attack – and use the fear of a U.S. military strike to mobilize support for their draconian regime.

    Despite U.S. assurances that it has “no intention” to invade North Korea, fear of a U.S. military action...

  4. (pp. 3-10)

    The working group has identified a number of factors that continue to impede U.S.-North Korea relations, as of early 2007:

    In July 2006, North Korea test launched seven missiles, including a long-range Taepo Dong 2 that was theoretically capable of hitting the United States. Although the long-range ICBM failed after 40 seconds and may not have been capable of carrying a nuclear payload, the test was a graphic reminder of the North Korean threat.

    These missile tests were soon overshadowed on October 9 by North Korea’s test of a nuclear device. Despite its small size, less than one kiloton, the...

  5. (pp. 11-12)

    In the course of analyzing U.S.-North Korea relations, the working group found it valuable to review the U.S. strategic goals toward North Korea. These strategic goals include the following:

    Among all the strategic U.S. goals toward North Korea, dismantling its nuclear weapons program and eliminating its nuclear arsenal as well as preventing it from selling nuclear material, know-how, equipment or actual weapons to other countries or terrorist groups is preeminent in the eyes of the working group. Consistent with U.S. policy going back to the early 1990s, the working group reaffirmed the policy priority of managing, containing, reducing and, ultimately,...

  6. (pp. 13-14)

    The working group’s analysis of both causes of difficulty in U.S.-North Korea relations and U.S. policy goals toward North Korea thus lead to its major overall conclusion: building upon the administration’s February 2007 political decision to move ahead on the nuclear negotiations with North Korea, the United States should seek a comprehensive settlement for the Korean peninsula. ⁶ In the working group’s view, putting in place a comprehensive settlement – and thus reaching an agreement to replace the 1953 Armistice – is the best means of achieving strategic U.S. policy goals on the peninsula.

    By offering the prospect of a...

  7. (pp. 15-26)

    A Denuclearization Agreement would implement the September 19, 2005 “joint declaration” at the Six Party talks in which North Korea committed to “abandoning all weapons and existing nuclear weapons programs”⁷. The carefully crafted language on ‘existing nuclear weapons programs’ in this statement covered both Pyongyang’s declared plutoniumgenerating graphite-modified reactors and its suspected, but unacknowledged, potential program to enrich uranium as material for nuclear weapons, as well as existing fissile material and weapons.

    The “joint agreement” of February 13, 2007 at the Six Party talks outlined two phases for progressively dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.⁸ A Denuclearization Agreement would certify...

  8. (pp. 27-30)

    Although North and South Korea would both play central roles in negotiating a Four Party Agreement, they would also require – and insist upon – a separate, direct negotiation to take up issues of deep bilateral concern. Similarly, Japan and North Korea will want to conclude an agreement for resolving issues central to the normalization of their bilateral relations, specifically including the question of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea during the Cold War.

    Although these additional agreements are not explicit components of a comprehensive settlement in Korea, they are critical to its success. The U.S. should strongly support South...

  9. (pp. 31-32)

    To achieve its strategic goals in Korea and Northeast Asia, the Atlantic Council working group believes the U.S. should seek a comprehensive and durable settlement for the Korean peninsula. Pursuing a set of parallel negotiations on political, economic and security issues, alongside the denuclearization talks, will specifically facilitate reaching a nuclear agreement as well as other strategic U.S. policy goals.

    An enlarged negotiating agenda that addresses all underlying security concerns will provide the United States with significantly greater diplomatic leverage. By enabling the U.S. to assert a variety of additional pressures on North Korea as well as provide new incentives,...

  10. (pp. 33-34)

    The working group believes that pursuing a comprehensive settlement in Korea through parallel negotiations on political, security and economic issues, alongside the denuclearization talks, will specifically facilitate reaching a nuclear agreement as well as other strategic U.S. policy goals in Korea and Northeast Asia. This report outlines the prospective elements of a comprehensive settlement in Korea in the hope that it will assist and guide U.S. policymakers and diplomats.

    Given the unpredictable nature of diplomacy with North Korea, it may well be that only some of the proposed elements are necessary and they should be implemented in a sequence that...