Three ways the UK can help resolve the North Korean crisis


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The situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a level of tension only seen during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Henry Jackson Society recognises that the capability and willingness of the DPRK regime to threaten the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other Western states is indeed very high.

While many are advocating a diplomatic solution, and HJS agrees in principle, it should be noted that three successive American administrations have attempted to negotiate with North Korea, in both bilateral and multilateral forums. All three failed.

It should also be noted that Pyongyang’s starting negotiation position is for the US and others to accept its status as a nuclear-armed power.

Since that is an unacceptable risk to the US, South Korea, Japan, and other regional allies, as well as to wider global nuclear arms security, HJS agrees with the strict sanctions regime imposed recently at the UNSC.

However, there is more that can be done. While we commend the UK’s role in negotiating the sanctions package at the United Nations, we believe the UK should take the following actions as a matter of urgency to help resolve this crisis:

  • Give greater public support to the UN Sanctions Committee on the DPRK, so that sanctions are fully implemented by regional countries
  • Ensure that DPRK entities or their proxies are not carrying out financial activities in the City of London or the UK at large
  • Press for a resolution on the despicable treatment of DPRK refugees, who in their attempts to flee a brutal dictatorship, are regularly repatriated by the Republic of China and Russia

Commenting on the crisis, Dr. Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, said:

“North Korea’s rogue regime is inciting global tension with its outrageous actions. Threats to the US and North Korea’s immediate neighbours need to be faced down by the international community both rhetorically and with all measures necessary to ensure the long term safety of the region. UN sanctions are an entirely appropriate response to continued nuclear violations and ballistic missile tests, and China’s commitment to these will be the key determinant in ensuring they can help force North Korea into compliance with international norms.”

Dr John Hemmings, the Director of the Asia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society, said:

“The international order is at a very dangerous fork in the road, one that affects the UK’s wider interests and security. The HJS commends British diplomacy in the UNSC, and calls upon the UK Government to help further de-escalate the crisis. We suggest this can be done by taking three steps we’ve set out here, which we believe should guide the UK’s future policymaking and negotiation.”


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