Leave North Korea Alone

LOS ANGELES – North Korea continues to befuddle the rest of the world. For several months, reports have circulated that the country may test its third nuclear device, which some speculate will be a uranium bomb drawn from the country’s enrichment program. But, whether or not the rumors prove to be true, the regime is sending a clear message, which it has enshrined in a new constitution that was made public in April: North Korea is “a nuclear-armed state” that will not abandon its weapons program.

The United States and others continue to seek ways to push back, but to no avail. North Korea’s nuclear commitment remains steadfast, reflected in its continued weapons tests, rocket launches, and production of nuclear materials. To imagine that new diplomatic incentives – whether carrots or sticks – will inspire North Korea’s leaders to reverse course is unrealistic. For the regime and its supporters, nuclear weapons provide a crucial security blanket.

Given these circumstances, America and its allies should abandon diplomatic efforts. They should ignore North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, instead allowing it to stew in its own economic dysfunction, and leaving China to continue propping up its government.

The history of North Korea’s quest for nuclear juche (self-reliance), which began in the 1960’s, reveals that no other course makes sense. From the start, the international community has scrambled to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions. But diplomatic “progress” has repeatedly proved to be a chimera. In fact, North Korean leaders have used the time afforded by diplomacy to advance their nuclear ambitions.