Interests, Red Lines, and Patience with North Korea

On the radar: Gallucci on North Korea; Khan’s 4th customer; Ross on pressuring Iran; New START one year on; Uranium sales vs. nonpro standards; a More hostile relationship; India-Pakistan confidence building; and the Silver linings of 2011.

December 23, 2011 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke

Lessons and advice on N. Korea - “We should adopt the best policies to protect our national security. Right now, that means entering a serious discussion about the North’s nuclear weapons program, aimed at its dismantlement,” writes Robert Gallucci, chief negotiator with North Korea during the Clinton administration.

--With experience negotiating with the North during a leadership transition, Gallucci urges patience: “resist drawing conclusions too soon about who is really in charge of North Korea.”

--Other recommendations: this is not the time to promote regime change; communicate a willingness to enter discussions on rolling back the North’s nuclear program; and warn North Korea that the U.S. will respond with “devastating consequences” if the North transfers nuclear weapons material or technology to another government or terrorist groups. From The New York Times.

Khan’s 4th customer - “Let’s get one thing straight: The evidence is incontrovertible that India was a customer of the Khan network,” writes Jeffrey Lewis on A.Q. Khan. New analysis from Joshua Pollack shows that India was not just a customer of the Khan network, it was the fourth customer - after Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

--”Khan, even as he was burning customers and patrons alike, as well as leaking documents to accuse other Pakistani officials of taking bribes, protected the identity of the fourth customer at all costs. No wonder.”

The pressure track - “With the Iranian regime reeling, an increase in pressure can once again put Iran's leaders in a position where they seek a way out. That way out must not leave the Iranians with the capability to produce nuclear weapons at a time of their choosing,” writes Dennis Ross in The Wall Street Journal.

--”They can have civil nuclear power. They cannot have the means to translate that into nuclear weapons.”

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Negotiator to Beijing - “South Korea sent its chief negotiator on the North’s nuclear program to Beijing to discuss how the death of Kim Jong Il affects international efforts to reverse the reclusive regime’s atomic weapons program.” Bloomberg reports.

New START one year on - A year ago yesterday, the Senate gave its advice and consent on the New START treaty with a strong bipartisan vote. “Our experience so far demonstrates that the New START Treaty is enhancing our national security by building predictability and stability between the United States and Russia,” writes Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, the treaty’s chief negotiator.

--Next START: “We are also setting the stage for the future, since new nuclear reductions will build on the success of New START and the innovations we are putting in place as we implement it.”

Antipodean uranium - Australia is considering exporting uranium to India. “Not only would it be illegal for Australia to sell uranium to India, but it would be imprudent from the standpoint of nonproliferation and national security, because it would undermine a range of other measures that are important for maintaining future stability and security in Asia,” write Daryl Kimball and William Potter in New Zealand’s The News.

”Malign neglect” - The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is dysfunctional. The question is what to do about it. “The only way the United States can actually get what it wants out of Pakistan is to make credible threats to retaliate if Pakistan does not comply with U.S. demands and offer rewards only in return for cooperative actions taken,” argues Stephen Krasner in the latest Foreign Affairs.

--”U.S. officials should tell their Pakistani counterparts in no uncertain terms that they must start playing ball or face malign neglect at best and, if necessary, active isolation. Malign neglect would mean ending all U.S. assistance, military and civilian; severing intelligence cooperation; continuing and possibly escalating U.S. drone strikes; initiating cross-border special operations raids; and strengthening U.S. ties with India.”

India-Pakistan confidence building - India and Pakistan have agreed to resume high-level discussions on nuclear and conventional confidence building measures next week.

--“This is an encouraging development,” writes CFR’s Frank Klotz. “As this process unfolds, both governments would do well to seriously consider the recommendations from [recent track II diplomacy such as] the Ottawa Dialogue.” Read more for background and perspective on the talks.

An optimists’ take on 2011 - Nuclear and foreign policy news tends to produce dark headlines and less than chipper predictions. Given some effort, writes David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy, you can find that most stories “contain at least one tiny, sparkling, glimmer of hope.” Pass the egg nog and read on.

--Hopeful glimmers: Kim Jong-il’s demise isn’t a bad start for reforming North Korea; the U.S. and its allies found ways to use hard and soft power to try and pressure Iran to stop its nuclear program without resorting to shock-and-awe; and Pakistan’s nukes have thus far stayed safe. Hope could not be found for the U.S. Congress.