What a conservative foreign policy towards North Korea would look like

Conservative foreign policy intellectuals say the Obama administration should respond to Tuesday’s nuclear test by North Korea by clearly recognizing that North Korea will never be persuaded to give up its nuclear weapons — and that the only long term solution to the North Korean problem is the end of the North Korean regime.

“The only way to deal with the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea … is the reunification of the Korean peninsula peacefully,” former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told The Daily Caller.

“The North Koreans are never going to be talked out of their nuclear weapons,” he said. “They’ll never consent to verification that will allow us to believe with confidence that they would meet any commitment to give up nuclear weapons.”

“First you have to come out and admit and state that North Korea is in fact a nuclear weapons state, which happens to be true but would also help clarify things,” said Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a former commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Tuesday’s nuclear test was North Korea’s third, the first coming in 2006 and the second in 2009.

Blumenthal says the reticence to declaring North Korea a nuclear state exists in part because some “still believe [North Korea] could be talked out of becoming” a nuclear state.

Steve Yates, a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, said in an email that the U.S. must “[r]ecognize that nature of the regime has not changed and neither has the strategic choice to acquire nuclear weapons.”

“Typical negotiations and sanctions will not work,” he said.

Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at AEI who has written extensively on North Korea, agreed that recognizing reality must be the first step in developing “a strategy for making a bigger North Korea problem into a smaller North Korea problem.”

“We have to start by recognizing that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are their highest priority of state,” he said.

“The second thing we need to recognize is whom that love letter is directed towards,” he continued. “This program is directed at creating a pistol that it can point at America’s head. The intended destination of these nuclear-tipped rockets is the United States mainland.”

The regime is seeking to use its program to create nuclear-tipped missiles in part to break America’s alliance with South Korea so that it can achieve the “to us seemingly impossible ambition of unifying the Korean peninsula, which is to say unconditionally absorbing South Korea on the Kim family’s terms,” said Eberstadt.

Like Bolton, Eberstadt agreed that the only real solution to the North Korean question is an end of the current North Korean regime, which makes sense considering he is the author of the 1999 book, “The End of North Korea.”

“The North Korean nuclear problem is the North Korean regime,” he said. “And the North Korean nuclear problem will face us until we deal with a post DPRK North Korea.”