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Philip Goldberg, right, a United States envoy in charge of coordinating the implementation of sanctions against North Korea, speaks after meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing, China, July 2, 2009.

AP Photo

Magazine Article - Arms Control Today

Ending North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions: The Need for Stronger Chinese Action

| July/August 2009

North Korea has recently taken a series of provocative steps to challenge the international community. If unchecked, North Korea will surely increase the quantity and quality of its arsenal. Even worse, once Pyongyang has more than enough weapons for its deterrent, it might be tempted to sell the surplus. The longer the crisis lasts, the more nuclear capable North Korea will become and the more difficult it will be to roll back Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.  A nuclear North Korea would put China's national interests at great risk. Beijing can increase pressure on Pyongyang, using positive inducements and punitive measures. The chances are low, however, that Beijing will radically adjust its North Korea policy, at least for the near future. Beijing will continue to maintain its bottom-line approach, avoiding war on the Korean peninsula and an abrupt collapse of the Kim regime. From China's perspective, these scenarios must be avoided at all costs because they are contrary to China's primary interest in a stable environment.