Go to Contents Go to Navigation

'Freeze and degrade' strategy for N. Korean nuke program: Bader

All News 17:14 March 08, 2012

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government of Barack Obama does not expect a solution to North Korea's nuclear weapons drive before the collapse of the communist regime and a South Korea-led reunification, according to a former senior White House official.

Jeffrey Bader, known as the architect of the Obama administration's policy on the Korean Peninsula, said Washington has a more realistic goal of "slowing down, freezing and degrading" North Korea's nuclear program.

"Many of us believed that the most likely long-term solution to the North's nuclear pursuits lay in the North's collapse and absorption into a South-led reunified Korea," Bader said in his memoir, obtained by Yonhap News Agency before its publication later this week, on his service as senior director for East Asian affairs at the White House's National Security Council for two years from January 2009.

"A strategy was still needed to slow down, freeze and degrade the North Korean program until history could take its course," he said.

The 188-page book, titled "Obama and China's Rise," discuses what Bader did, what he saw and what it meant for Obama's policy toward the East Asia region.

Bader, currently a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the Obama administration had made clear that six-party talks would resume only when North Korea took the necessary steps to show its seriousness about denuclearization.

"Notably a freeze on nuclear tests, a freeze on ballistic missile tests, a verifiable freeze on its claimed uranium enrichment program as monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, a commitment to the 2005 joint statement and a pledge to honor the Korean War Armistice," he said.

Bader's book, of which text was apparently completed before the North Korea-U.S. deal in last month's Beijing talks, indicates that Washington does not call for additional pre-steps by Pyongyang for the resumption of the six-way nuclear talks.

Recounting military tensions in 2010 on the peninsula over the North's two deadly attacks on the South, Bader said the South was "considering retaliation well beyond a local response."

He also revealed the behind-the-scenes discussions on the deployment of the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered carrier, into the Yellow Sea, the waters between China and the Korean Peninsula.

During his trip to Seoul for a G-20 summit in Nov. 11-12, Obama "privately" told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that the U.S. intended to send the carrier into the Yellow Sea "within the next 10 days."

The USS George Washington was actually deployed into the Yellow Sea immediately after the North's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23.

The deployment sent an "importance message to Beijing: North Korean provocations would induce U.S. and South Korean responses not at all to their liking," he added. "Washington hoped this would encourage China to refrain North Korea in the future."

When South Korea requested a delay in the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of its troops from Washington to Seoul after the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan naval ship, Bader said, U.S. Forces Korea, supported by then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, were "somewhat reluctant to alter the timetable."

They did not want to imperil the improvements in the South Korean command and control, military acquisitions and training that were picking up speed under the plan to transfer OPCON in 2012.

But Obama was sympathetic to the concerns by his South Korean counterpart that it may send the wrong signal to the North, given the South Korean military's capabilities, and Obama made a decision on the postponement, according to Bader.



Issue Keywords
Most Liked
Most Saved
Most Viewed More
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!