There is no military path for success when it comes to stopping North Korea from gaining a nuclear missile program. But stopping it is a world-wide mission that must not fail And Secretary of State Rex Tillerson knows that to be true. His words last week were welcome to a world that is deeply concerned about the possibility of war.
Tillerson stated that there should be assurances that North Korea will have “the security they seek” and offered a new chance at economic prosperity if it surrenders its nuclear weapons. He is working towards what can be the only way to manage this most dangerous situation. That is with the path of diplomacy.
How Tillerson and North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, deal with each other at places such as this weekend’s annual ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, will be all important. The art of diplomatic choreography may not be understood by the voters who cast a ballot for President Trump, but the majority of the nation knows such actions as Tillerson is now engaged in will set up the Trump administration’s moves on its top foreign policy priority for the rest of the year.
A few weeks ago I penned the following and it remains where I hope to see events take us.
While North Korea is clearly front and center in the threat category the way to resolve it is not in a military fashion. Wise defense leaders agree. Though I much agree the negotiation route has not up to now been the panacea for a solution that we hoped for, it still does come down to the best route left that would not potentially kill millions in that region.
Getting to the table and making some fast progress is the best idea. Get China to deal for an interim arrangement that freezes the missile program, followed by further talks to dismantle the program. The timetable can not be seen as being used by North Korea, so a deadline for talks would need to be established. For concessions North Korea would get sanctions relief but there would be inspections and a need to make sure nuclear material was not transported to third parties.
It is a complex matter but the devastating consequences from not committing to negotiations is a non-starter.