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Trump should first get tough on N.K. nuclear program before resuming talks: U.S. expert

All News 07:21 January 17, 2017

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- The incoming U.S. administration of Donald Trump should first send a clear and tough message to North Korea that its nuclear program will be opposed "in word and deed," rather than hastily resuming negotiations, a senior U.S. expert said.

Jonathan Pollack, a top Asia expert at the Brookings Institution, made the point in an article posted on the think tank's website, criticizing former Defense Secretary William Perry's recent suggestion that the United States should try negotiations with Pyongyang first.

"Perry's proposal — 'talk first and get tough later' — puts the cart before the horse," Pollack said. "North Korea has long maintained a singular obsession with its nuclear weapon and missile capabilities, and has repeatedly made clear it will not negotiate an end to its weapons programs."

As the former defense chief himself acknowledges, possession of nuclear weapons might convince North Korea that it could launch much riskier actions against South Korea and Japan without fear of retaliation, the expert said.

Though the goal of North Korean denuclearization remains, the pre-eminent U.S. policy objective is now less the near-term reversal or cessation of the North's weapons programs, and more to disabuse Pyongyang of any belief that its capabilities provide it added advantage or protection from the consequences of future provocations, he said.

"Kim Jong-un appears to believe that he can sustain and enhance his weapons programs without major impediments or severe consequences. The United States must impart to Kim that his beliefs are objectionable and wholly contrary to U.S. interests, and that they will be opposed in word and in deed," Pollack said.

The North's leader said in his New Year's Day address that the country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, an apparent threat that Pyongyang is close to developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental U.S.

In response, Trump said Pyongyang's development of a missile capable of striking the U.S. "won't happen."

Last week, Trump's pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, strongly suggested that a main element of the new administration's policy on the North would be to pressure China to use its leverage over the communist neighbor.

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson accused China of making "empty promises" to put pressure on North Korea, saying Beijing "has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb" the North. He also vowed to consider "actions" to get Beijing to fully enforce sanctions on Pyongyang.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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