Moving Beyond Timid Incrementalism: Time to Fully Implement U.S. Laws on North Korea
North Korea announced on January 4 that it had conducted a successful H-bomb nuclear test of a miniaturized warhead. Nuclear experts continue to analyze the data, but preliminary assessments are that North Korea did indeed conduct its fourth nuclear test, though it is more likely that Pyongyang has achieved a boosted fission rather than a fusion bomb. North Korea has likely already achieved warhead miniaturization, the ability to place nuclear weapons on its medium-range missiles, and a preliminary ability to reach the continental U.S. with a missile. According to The Heritage Foundation’s calculations, North Korea’s Taepo Dong 2 missiles, with a range of 10,000 kilometers, are within strike capability of 120.6 million people, or 38 percent of the U.S. population.
It is time for the Obama Administration to abandon its policy of timid incrementalism and fully implement existing U.S. laws by imposing stronger sanctions on North Korea and to work with Congress to determine additional measures. The U.S. should act with the UN Security Council, unilaterally, and with South Korea. Neither sanctions nor diplomacy alone is a panacea, both are essential and mutually supporting elements of a comprehensive integrated strategy utilizing all the instruments of national power. The U.S. has strong tools, it has just lacked the resolve to use them.