North Korea: Diplomacy is the only route

Efforts to bring about multilateral talks should continue to drive international involvement in this crisis

 

The crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear programme has been further deepened by the test of what it says is a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, followed by international condemnations and arguments about how to respond. Choices between tougher sanctions, more diplomacy or military deterrence and action are posed amid mounting concern that impulsive moves by Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un could make the escalation of tension even more serious.

None of these means have stopped the North Korean rush towards an advanced nuclear capability. Deciding whether this push is motivated by genuine fear of attack, real willingness to bargain or an irrational craving for power by its young leader is difficult even for specialists. These events underline yet again how complex is the regional setting in which it occurs and how fraught and unpredictable it would be to take decisive action against North Korea’s leadership. The pressure to take such action is becoming more intense. The United Nations Security Council is considering adding textiles, air travel bans and more extensive blacklisting to its repertoire of sanctions. President Trump would like to add a ban on crude oil exports, but China fears that could push the regime towards collapse. President Xi Jinping must be further worried by Trump’s threats to stop trading with those who support North Korea, just as his South Korean counterpart president Moon Jae-in has to assess Trump’s call to abrogate the US trade agreement with his country.

The latest North Korean escalations have forced Moon to cooperate with the US anti-ballistic missile system despite his earlier reservations. But his long-term commitment to a peaceful denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula remains a policy worth pursuing. Diplomatic and political efforts to bring about multilateral talks on how this might be achieved should continue to drive international involvement in this crisis. China, South Korea and Japan have huge responsibilities to make that happen in their own self-interest and to protect their region from an ill-considered or impulsive war.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.