A Dangerous Fixation on Denuclearization

This fixation on compelling their disarmament has left us with a much better-armed North Korea and no peace treaty.

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A new Chicago Council survey finds that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of negotiating a peace agreement with North Korea, but only if North Korea disarms:

For example, 76 percent of Americans support negotiating a formal peace agreement with North Korea to officially end the Korean War if North Korea suspends its nuclear weapons program. If North Korea is allowed to keep its nuclear weapons, support for such a deal drops to 24 percent.

North Korea isn’t going to give up its nuclear weapons, so making a formal peace agreement contingent on that is a good way to guarantee that there will be no peace agreement. Since North Korean nuclear weapons are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, it would make a lot more sense to stabilize the relationship with a formal peace agreement. The U.S. has spent the last 15 years trying to cajole North Korea into giving up its nuclear deterrent, and this fixation on compelling their disarmament has left us with a much better-armed North Korea and no peace treaty. We have had things in the wrong order all along. The US, North Korea, and South Korea need to agree on peace first, and then it may be possible to have a more productive negotiation on arms control.

Most of the public has internalized the official line that there will be no diplomatic progress with North Korea on other issues until they give up their weapons:

Another possible step is for the two countries to establish diplomatic relations. But only a minority support taking this step if North Korea continues to develop its nuclear weapons program. And if North Korea does continue to build its nuclear weapons program, 70 percent favor isolating and pressuring North Korea with economic sanctions.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

5 thoughts on “A Dangerous Fixation on Denuclearization”

  1. So, when is the U.S. going to be isolated with economic sanctions?? We have 5800 of the things, plenty of missiles to deliver the things, have used two of the things.

  2. The NPT has two major parts:

    1)No new countries with nukes.
    2) Those that already have nukes will de-nuke.

    The major players only ever mention #1 while they continue to upgrade
    their own nukes.

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