New order needed in Northeast Asia to stop North Korea's ambition: expert

As North Korea's latest missile launch is intensifying the regional tensions, a new order should be established in Northeast Asia to curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambition, according to a US expert.

Evans J.R. Revere, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies in Washington DC, believes that the current policy adopted by the Donald Trump administration to force North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to make a choice between the nuclear program and his regime is facing obstacles as the US is calling on China to put more pressure on its neighboring country.

Pyongyang's recent successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile which many experts said has the range to reach Alaska and the US west coast has triggered fierce criticism about Trump's uncertain policy toward provocative North Korea.

Revere thinks that the US policy toward North Korea has gone through several phases since Trump took the office of the president. At first, Trump wanted to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis by means of military strength, which was opposed by his allies due to the risk of a war. Meanwhile, the military option was seen as bravado by North Korea, which in turn accelerated the development of its nuclear weapons. Later, Trump adopted a conciliatory tone by following the "maximum pressure and engagement" policy, which focused on tough wording, sanctions and negotiation, only to find that North Korea was unwilling to hold talks with the US. Under the circumstances, Trump adopted the current policy, which is aimed at prompting Kim to drop the nuclear ambition in exchange for the continuation of his rule.

In Revere's opinion, whether Trump will stick to the current policy remains uncertain because the implementation of the policy needs cooperation with other countries. Meanwhile, Trump is asked by China and Russia to suspend the military drills the US is holding with South Korea in exchange for the suspension of North Korea's nuclear program. The US is reluctant to stop these joint military exercises because it believes that it will help China and Russia to reach their strategic goals in Northeast Asia. Worse still, Trump has to coordinate with many government agencies when executing his new North Korea policy.

Revere believes that Pyongyang's determination to have its own nuclear weapons is unshakable, which deals a heavy blow to Trump's current North Korea policy and raises potential security risks in Northeast Asia.


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