When President-elect Joe Biden walks into the White House on January 20, 2021, a wide range of pressing foreign-policy challenges will await him. Arguably, none is more urgent than North Korea. In the first hundred days of his administration, President Biden should declare the 70-year Korean War over and appoint a special envoy to negotiate a peace treaty, with an eye toward reconciliation with North Korea and gradual denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. A process that leads with the political question of U.S.-North Korea relations, more so than myopic focus on denuclearization, will have a better chance of success and prevent conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea.
North Korea’s October military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea is the latest reminder that a U.S.-led nuclear weapons–centered policy has the perverse impact of hardening North Korea’s resolve in acquiring nuclear weapons. Both sides need an off-ramp from the vicious cycle of threats and nuclear buildup. Operationally, that means building mutual trust through a step-by-step approach of peace-building and denuclearization.
President Biden should declare the 70-year Korean War over and appoint a special envoy to negotiate a peace treaty.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, a conflict that epitomizes endless war. While some Americans may think that the Korean War is a distant affair, the conflict continues to have a profound impact on the lives of those who fought in it. It was a brutal war, killing five million people in a three-year battle. In 1953, the United States on behalf of the United Nations Command signed an armistice agreement with North Korea and China. It was meant to be a temporary measure and remains in place to this day. As Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun noted in a speech earlier this month, the temporary status of the war must be addressed without delay: “The war is over; the time for conflict has ended, and the time for peace has arrived.”
Read the full article in The American Prospect.