Stimson in the News

Alan Romberg quoted in The Diplomat on the prospect of reevaluating US-DPRK relations

in Program

A few weeks back, at a time when the minds of most foreign
affairs watchers in D.C. were on conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, the
State Department’s two top diplomats in charge of North Korea policy, Glyn
Davies and Robert King, testified in front of the House Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. At the hearing, Republican committee
members, in characteristically pugnacious style, accused the Obama
administration of maintaining an ineffectual policy toward the world’s most
reclusive and capricious state. Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said in his
opening remarks that “a non-nuclear North Korea is an elusive goal if the
administration maintains its current strategic trajectory.” Doug Collins (R-GA)
went a step further, saying current U.S. policy has “served only to benefit
North Korea by offering it more time… to pursue its own objectives.” Even Gerry
Connolly (D-VA), normally sympathetic to the White House’s agenda, voiced
frustration at the lack of progress made in recent years.

Despite agreeing to abandon its nuclear program in 2005 as
part of an accord reached with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the U.S.,
North Korea disavowed that promise after talks broke down in 2008. Since then,
the U.S. government has maintained that North Korea must abide by its 2005
commitment, or else continue to face a crippling sanctions regime and a
diplomatic cold shoulder. However, the aggressive lines of questioning by
Chabot and others reflect a growing realization that this policy, informally
referred to as “strategic patience,” does not adequately address the
increasingly brazen threats emanating from the Hermit Kingdom. Indeed, the
security situation on the peninsula has only deteriorated in recent years, and
all signs indicate that it will continue to do so unless the U.S. revises its

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