Nuclear Issues

431 Items

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Theory of Engagement With North Korea

| May 2019

At the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, the United States and North Korea reached a familiar impasse—diplomacy broke down over the appropriate order of near-term steps, and the world was left wondering whether any package of rewards would be enough to incentivize denuclearization.

In a new Managing the Atom Discussion Paper, Christopher Lawrence outlines an alternative conceptual framework for engaging North Korea. Rather than offering rewards for nuclear rollback, the approach focuses on building credibility around the notion of a shared political future. Lawrence suggests that physical actions—such as shared investments in integrated rail, electricity, or mining infrastructure—speak more credibly about the political future for all the parties involved than do written commitments or more transient “carrots” and “sticks.” The international relationships created by infrastructure projects may alter North Korea's security calculus over time, and incrementally reduce its dependence on nuclear weapons. Drawing lessons from the 1994 Agreed Framework, Lawrence reinterprets the history of nonproliferation engagement with North Korea, and illuminates possible opportunities to break the diplomatic impasse after the Hanoi summit.

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un stands at attention as the Russian national anthem play in Vladivostok, Russia, April 26, 2019.

Alexander Khitrov (AP)

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

With North Korea, Russia Knows It Can Only Play Second Fiddle to China and US

| Apr. 25, 2019

While Putin has demonstrated that he can play a weak hand extremely well in some corners of the world, that is not the case on the Korean peninsula. There China holds the largest stock of carrots and the U.S. probably wields the biggest arsenal of sticks.

Trump and Kim meet in Hanoi on February 27, 2019 (Shealah Craighead/White House).

Shealah Craighead/White House

Analysis & Opinions - Australian Outlook

The Hanoi Trump-Kim Summit: Personal Chemistry Fizzles

| Mar. 04, 2019

The breakdown of the second round of talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un highlights the limits of personal chemistry in diplomatic relations. To work towards a negotiated solution to the Korean Peninsula, the United States and North Korea will need to work out some real strategic agreements.

Trump and Kim shake hands at the Hanoi summit meeting on February 27, 2019 (Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo).

Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

After the Hanoi Summit: Next Steps for the US, North Korea, and Vietnam

| Mar. 02, 2019

In the aftermath of the Hanoi summit, it is important to assess how U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will proceed to avoid a collapse of the denuclearization process as well as how Vietnam can reap long-term benefits for its international profile and tourism industry. It may be the case that the Hanoi summit was a failure, but a necessary one in the context of growing unrealistic expectations from both Washington and Pyongyang. Vietnam still has a lot to do after the summit to continue contributing to North Korea’s reform and denuclearization.