ramberg19_JUNG YEON-JEAFP via Getty Images_north korea nuclear Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible?

Relying on deterrence alone against nuclear-armed North Korea cannot assuredly prevent or manage missteps, because the country’s isolation from the rest of the world breeds unique perils. US President Joe Biden’s administration should therefore consider normalizing diplomatic relations with Kim Jong-un's regime.

LOS ANGELES – North Korea’s recent public displays of new intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles have raised fresh concerns about the risks the regime in Pyongyang poses to the US mainland. As President Joe Biden’s administration reviews US policy toward the DPRK over the past four years and draws what lessons it can from Donald Trump’s nuclear summitry with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it should consider a new arms-control approach.

The failure of Trump’s efforts should surprise no one. After all, prior US administrations’ initiatives to stop North Korea’s nuclear-arms program – including Bill Clinton’s “Agreed Framework,” the six-party talks during George W. Bush’s administration, and Barack Obama’s “Leap Day” agreement – came to naught. Quite the contrary: North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and has failed to abide by a 1992 accord with South Korea pledging to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

All this diplomatic activity leading nowhere raises a fundamental question: Does nuclear-arms control have a future on the peninsula?