“Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain nor will it rely on strategic patience,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday regarding the Joe Biden administration’s new policy toward North Korea. “Our policy calls for a calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK.” A high-ranking official wrote in Washington Post that the U.S. is ready to propose easing sanctions for certain measures under the ultimate goal of denuclearization. Meanwhile, Kwon Jeong-geun who is in charge of the U.S. affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry made a threat that the U.S. will face a serious situation regarding President Biden’s Sunday comments on ‘stern deterrence’ for North Korea.
The new North Korea policy is the official documentation of the Biden administration’s consistent involvement in and the diplomatic resolution of North Korea’s nuclear issues. In particular, the U.S.’s willingness to ease sanctions with the precondition of North Korea’s denuclearization behaviors can be the catalyst of creating a mood for conversations. It is a notable change that the Biden administration is not going to repeat the Obama administration’s policy of simply standing by. It must have come from the judgment that North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities now threaten the U.S. mainland. A high-ranking official said the conclusion is to remove threats against the U.S.
North Korea should show a change of attitude as the U.S. mentioned upholding the Singapore Agreement and the possibility of easing sanctions. While North Korea argues for ‘first easing sanctions, then talking,’ it is well acknowledged that such an option is not realistic. North Korea also demanded at the Hanoi Summit the easing of key sanctions with the condition of dismantling nuclear facilities in Nyongbyon. North Korea should understand that the Biden administration’s stance of ‘careful, calibrated diplomatic approach’ can change any time with the North’s provocations.
Even with the structure of President Biden’s North Korea policy set in place now, it is only the beginning. Joint management of North Korean situations and close cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. are more desperately needed than at any time. The two countries should focus on the development of ‘closely coordinated’ follow-up measures so that specific proposals regarding North Korea can be put forward at the summit on May 21.