Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper lamented that convincing North Korea to denuclearize is “probably a lost cause” during a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations. He added that “significant inducements” to limit their nuclear program would be the only solution to eliminating the threat of an attack on one of its neighbors.
“I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause,” Reuters quotes Clapper as saying. “They are not going to do that – that is their ticket to survival.” He described the regime as “very paranoid” and potential diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang as unlikely: “we are kind of stuck on our narrative and they are kind of stuck on theirs.”
“The best we could probably hope for is some sort of a cap, but they are not going to do that just because we ask them. There’s going to have to be some significant inducements,” he added.
Reuters adds that State Department spokesman John Kirby refuted the idea that Clapper’s remarks meant a change in policy for the White House: “Our policy objective is to seek to obtain a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. That is the policy; that is both the goal and what we want to see and there is a way to do that.”
The communist dictatorship of North Korea has run five known nuclear tests, including two this year. The country has threatened to develop nuclear weapons for centuries until Pyongyang agreed to halt its program during the term of President Bill Clinton. It has then proceeded to almost entirely ignore the provisions of that deal under current dictator Kim Jong-un.
Despite this, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) signed by Iran last year led many to openly discuss the possibility of arriving at a similar deal with North Korea. Some arguments against the possibility were the fact that North Korea, unlike Iran, already appears to possess nuclear weapons, and that the Kim regime has far less to gain than Iran, an oil-rich country, has to gain from America’s legitimizing of their economy.
Clapper’s assessment is in part a product of the tenor of rhetoric coming out of North Korea’s government. On Wednesday, multiple articles in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper attacked the United States directly.
Of Secretary of State John Kerry, the newspaper said, “This is nothing but a rubbish of the guy who has become helpless in the face of the total bankruptcy of the U.S.” and the head of “a herd of illegal gangsters as they overthrew by force the legitimate governments of sovereign states and killed tens of thousands of innocent people in different parts of the world for the mere reason that they courted displeasure.”
“It is as clear as noonday that the chariot of the triangular military alliance being driven by the U.S. at breakneck speed will screw up the tension on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, increase the danger of a nuclear war and entail catastrophic consequences,” another article posted Wednesday blared.