India-Pakistan’s lessons for peace in North Korea

Courtesy The Washington Post-

Retired CIA director Gen. Michael V. Hayden recently told New Yorker writer Robin Wright that any diplomatic solution “will have to, in one way or another, concede North Korea’s nuclear status. Nothing else is possible.” As a former deputy chief of staff of U.S. Forces Korea, he knows the territory.

I am a retired intelligence officer with some perspective on Korea. I cannot claim Mr. Hayden’s breadth of experience but I agree we must accept that North Korea has achieved nuclear deterrent status. From Pyongyang’s perspective, this is regime survival. The best analogy is Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent against India. Both Pakistan and North Korea acted from recognition of hopeless conventional-war inferiority and need for an asymmetric option.

The Kim regime is repellant. It does not merit U.S. recognition but it is a fact of international life. The United States should seek confidential negotiations with China to secure a mutual guarantee to jointly present to the U.N. Security Council. Beijing would sell it to Pyongyang, Washington to Seoul and Tokyo. Not conceding the de jure status of the Kim regime, the United States would agree to de facto accept its nuclear arsenal. In exchange, North Korea would accept a weapons freeze at their current level and delivery capability enforced by an International Atomic Energy Agency inspection regime and including a prohibition on exporting nuclear weapons technology.

We also should pursue with China a four-cornered hotline with North Korea and South Korea, like the one the United States helped India and Pakistan establish.

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