North Korean Behavior in Nuclear Negotiations

by Yong-Sup Han

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At the end of the Cold War, North Korea changed its approach to negotiations. Toward the United States it continued to use a strategy of brinkmanship; toward South Korea it used a number of tactics that it did not use with the United States, such as insults and slander, propaganda, and delay. There were some commonalities: the use of extortion to attempt to gain concessions, and generating issues and manipulating the agenda to maximize negotiation gains. The author recommends that (1) future talks be held outside the Korean peninsula to minimize negative psychological effects; (2) South Korea ignore the propaganda and focus on the main agenda; (3) South Korea should try to keep the negotiations insulated from domestic political pressure and maintain consistency in is policy; (4) the United Sates should use a balanced "carrot and stick" approach toward North Korea and should attempt to gain a better knowledge and understanding of conditions in different regions. He suggests that the international community should step up efforts to closely monitor North Korea's clandestine nuclear activity and should address the verification issue at an early stage when new deals are being considered. In general, concerned countries should produce detailed, written documents on negotiated agreements to prevent North Korea from violating or misinterpreting them.

Originally published in: The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2000, v. 7, no. 1, pp. 41-54.

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