Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Give Up on Denuclearizing North Korea

| July 28, 2017

The question now is how to convince it not to use its weapons.

Strategic milestones don’t come along everyday. Today was one of those days.

On Friday, North Korea tested a missile than can deliver a nuclear weapon to almost any target in the continental United States, marking a major accomplishment for a state than many thought was on its last legs in the early 1990s. But far from dead, North Korea has managed to evade every political, military, and economic barrier that five successive U.S. presidents put in its way. Now, the United States under President Donald Trump has a massive but surmountable challenge on its hands—deterring a nuclear-armed North Korea and preserving and strengthening America’s alliances with South Korea and Japan, countries currently questioning whether Kim Jong Un’s new capabilities might prevent the United States from coming to their defense.

In recent years, America’s North Korea debate has focused on whether Washington should talk to Pyongyang and seek a freeze on its program. Those debates now seem pretty played out. Today, the main challenge is preventing North Korea from hurting the United States and its allies now that the Kim regime has long-range nuclear missiles. This debate is the one that Washington should have been having for years—may as well have it now.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Wolfsthal, Jon.“Give Up on Denuclearizing North Korea.” The Atlantic, July 28, 2017.

The Author