As Kim Jong Un prepares for nuclear test, Biden’s approach to North Korea is failing, experts warn


Since President Biden took office, North Korea has escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula by testing its ballistic missile programs, including its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Experts in the region believe the Biden policy is failing and must be recalibrated, or risk another foreign policy headache.


Since the beginning of this year, North Korea has repeatedly tested its missile programs and has already conducted the 19th round of missile tests on its various ballistic missile weapons. Following the North’s unprecedented series of missile tests, Washington and outside experts have accused the regime of having completed all the preparatory stages for its seventh nuclear test.

“North Korea is not at the top of this administration’s agenda and there is little point in fundamentally revisiting the results of last year’s policy review based on new developments since then. “said Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. in Washington.

Panda continued, “At this time there is probably little the administration can do to dissuade North Korea from pursuing its military modernization goals, to which Kim Jong Un is committed,” he said. , adding that “the North Koreans are unlikely to return the favor to the United States”. interest in talks until they complete their modernization efforts.

Given the tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the North’s missile test with the absence of dialogue between the countries, experts warn that it has demonstrated that the Biden administration’s policy on North Korea has up to has been ineffective and cannot practically solve North Korea’s problems.


Sung-yoon Lee, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said North Korea has not responded to overtures from the Biden administration because “now is not the time [for North Korea] to be engaged [in the dialogue] but to increase his net worth.”

“Like an elite athlete aware of their performance ahead of upcoming contract negotiations, North Korea needs to improve their net worth, which means threat capability for the region and the United States,” Lee said.

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Despite its messages to revive stalled nuclear talks, North Korea has continuously tested its missile weapons and Kim Jong Un lifted his self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM testing in March. At a military parade in April, state media reported that Kim said that while the mission of his nuclear forces was to deter war, “our nuclear weapons can never be confined to the sole mission of deterring war. war, even at a time when a situation that we absolutely do not wish is created on this earth.”

New South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s desire to see Washington deploy tactical nuclear weapons on southern soil adds to the pressure the Biden administration is facing on the peninsula – something the Biden administration has clearly indicated that she did not support. Supporters have urged Seoul to deploy nuclear weapons because none of the policies or approaches has succeeded in removing nuclear weapons from the North on the Korean Peninsula over the past decades.


Kim’s self-moratorium came as a carrot-and-stick policy for South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump’s efforts for nuclear talks in 2018. However, since Trump quit At the 2019 Hanoi summit, Kim publicly expressed his willingness to adopt his country’s old-school policy centered on “might against might” against the United States and South Korea.

The Biden administration’s policy is known as North Korea’s “calibrated and practical” approach, which was defined as the main opening to North Korea after the months-long policy review in 2020. As part of the policy, the Biden administration has consistently sent its messages to Pyongyang that it has “no hostile intentions” towards North Korea since the Kim regime asked Washington to remove the so -called “hostile policy”. This policy includes joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, sanctions and the 28,000 American troops stationed in South Korea.

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“Biden’s position that he can only engage with Kim if he takes practical steps toward denuclearization can be interpreted [from Pyongyang’s side] as a request for Kim to succumb to the United States,” said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.

With North Korea’s willingness to continue to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in frontal areas and building nuclear submarines to ensure a second-strike capability against the United States, the possibility of Kim following Biden’s precondition for dialogue is close to zero, Cheong said.


Some experts say the China factor also renders the Biden administration’s policy on North Korea ineffective given the deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

This distance between the parties, they say, is the result of the Biden administration’s strengthening of its anti-China policy in the region; the QUAD – a group made up of the United States, Japan, Australia and India – is an example.

As a result of this push, relations between Kim and Xi-Jinping appear to have strengthened to deal with the growing influence of the United States and its allies in the region, which has led Kim to escalate tensions in the Korean peninsula.

China has ostensibly expressed support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but has never taken any substantial steps to prevent the North from further developing its missile programs, as its nuclear and missile programs have steadily expanded. Moreover, following the Ukraine crisis, China and Russia vetoed new economic sanctions against North Korea’s missile test as permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“It is now increasingly difficult for Biden to work with China on North Korea with the intensification of rivalry relations between the United States and China,” said Lee Sang-soo, director of Stockholm Korea. Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Sweden.


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Although Washington appears to be seeking to resolve the issue through bilateral dialogue with Pyongyang in coordination with its allies in the region, Lee stressed the need to work with China as North Korea is economically dependent on China, meaning that “the effectiveness of sanctions is weakening, and tension is rising on the Korean Peninsula” with China’s non-cooperation.

Experts say the main reason for the ineffectiveness of the Biden administration’s approach to North Korea is its precondition for dialogue between Biden and Kim. During his visit to Seoul last month, Biden reaffirmed that he would only meet the North Korean leader when Kim was “sincere” and “serious”, that is, when Kim was moving forward with denuclearization. from his country. However, this approach is unlikely to make substantial progress for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the rapprochement between the two countries.

Kim Joon-hyung, former chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy and professor of international relations at Handong World University in South Korea, said North Korea has repeatedly asked for its preconditions to resume the deadlocked nuclear talks with a clear position.

“The United States has offered North Korea to return to the negotiating table to resolve issues through dialogue first, but North Korea has shown no interest in having an event-driven dialogue with the parties again. United States since the failure of the Hanoi summit,” he said.

The Biden administration has stuck to its approach of luring North Korea with whatever unspecified economic packages it can offer once Pyongyang makes substantial progress in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. To restore dialogue, Kim Jong Un is unlikely to give up his nuclear weapons to denuclearize North Korea preemptively for negotiations with Biden, according to the professor.

“Given that Biden, whose hands are tied on domestic politics, will not make bold concessions on North Korea’s issues with uncertainty, Washington will most likely continue to take the ‘strategic patience’ approach or of “strategic negligence” by the Obama administration. [on North Korea]“, he concluded.


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