Coming Soon: Joe Biden's North Korea Policy

Coming Soon: Joe Biden's North Korea Policy

What path forward will the new administration choose and will it continue any of Trump’s policies?

President Joe Biden administration’s review of its policy toward North Korea is expected to be finished “within the next month or so,” a senior White House official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The new administration’s review comes after former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the previous four years. However, the “friendlier” tone in the relationship between the two countries failed to persuade the isolated East Asian nation to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

“We are involved and engaged in a highly intense strategic review. Our expectations are that it will be done in within the next month or so,” the official said.

Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said that placing more economic sanctions on North Korea cannot be ruled out.

The senior administration official noted that the individuals involved in the review will likely analyze how diplomacy has worked within the mostly rocky relationship over the past three decades.

“Our expectations are probably very much shaped by previous experiences,” he said.

“I think we want to explore a variety of different things,” he added without elaborating on the content.

The official confirmed that North Korea would be among the topics discussed at the first summit on Friday of the Quad group of nations, which include the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.

Recently, South Korea has hinted that it may be considering joining the Quad Plus in order to possibly influence U.S. policy on North Korea.

Hwang Ji-hwan, a member of the South Korean president’s commission on policy planning, has stated that the Moon Jae-in administration is not a proponent of a sudden or complete removal of sanctions on the isolated neighboring country but should do so in a gradual manner via diplomacy and negotiations that are geared toward denuclearization on the peninsula.

“Seoul is thus trying to coordinate and influence the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review process. South Korea is aware that the new administration has a host of domestic and foreign policy priorities more important to Washington than North Korea,” Hwang, an international relations professor from the University of Seoul, and Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Korea chair at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and associate professor in international relations at King’s College in London, wrote in a recent op-ed.

“The South Korean president believes it is his duty to lay the groundwork for a sustainable inter-Korean reconciliation process.”

On Tuesday, Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, voiced concerns that North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and delivery systems that are designed to strike the United States.

“North Korea poses a significant security risk to the United States and our partners in the Indo Pacific Region. The country has taken no meaningful steps toward denuclearization, despite promising signs of de-escalation in 2018, and it continues to advance its strategic weapons program,” Davidson said in a statement submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Until the nuclear situation is resolved on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea will remain our most immediate threat.”

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.