North Koreas nuclear arsenal has grown tenfold in the last five years, according to David Cortright, a research fellow at the University of Notre Dame. He calls that growth a colossal failure ofU.S.foreign policy.
The Bush administration started a war againstIraqwhich did not have the bomb, Cortright said, while allowingNorth Korea, which had a known nuclear program, to continue developing its capabilities. In 2000, he said,North Koreahad enough weapons-grade plutonium for perhaps one or two bombs. Now, it could build as many as 10 bombs
North Koreahad agreed during most of the90s to an inspected shutdown of its plutonium reactors and reprocessing facilities,he said, recalling the efforts of theClintonadministration.The Bush administration refused to carry on the negotiations thatClintonhad almost concluded. It ignored the problem.
As part of their work at Notre Dames Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Cortright and George A. Lopez have spent more than a decade studying the use of economic sanctions to change the behavior of countries. TheUnited Statesimposition of sanctions againstNorth Koreahas failed, they contend, as has its policy of refusing direct talks withPyongyang.
Americamust restore normal diplomatic relations withNorth Korea, Lopez said.
We must say noto the old approach, which sets pre-conditions for direct talks,Lopez said. He dismissed the idea that direct talks only rewardNorth Koreas dangerous behavior.
TheU.S.also should be willing to sign a pact, agreeing not to attack North Korea, Cortright said.
They want to survive,he said ofNorth Koreas communist regime.Theyre struggling to hang on.
Cortright and Lopez agree there should be some kind of sanctions imposed, this time, by the United Nations, to keep pressure onNorth Koreato change its ways. Those sanctions could include a ban on the travel of Kim Jong-il and other senior leaders, and an embargo on exports toNorth Koreaof arms- and nuclear-related equipment.
When North Korea announced that it had conducted an underground nuclear test, the researchers said, it provided the latest evidence of a new realityone that poses a direct threat to Americas security, and one that could spread to even more countries.
We have a nuclearNorth Korea,Lopez said.We have to deal with it.