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Jiang Presents Study on North Korea to Department of Defense

Maorong JiangA Creighton University political science professor and expert in Asia delivered a study last month to the Department of Defense, outlaying future approaches to North Korea as that nation works on building a nuclear arsenal.

Maorong Jiang, PhD, director of Creighton’s Asian World Center, has been watching drama unfold on the Korean Peninsula and the East Asian sphere of influence for decades and has concluded that a lasting peace might best be achieved with Pyongyang’s agreement to pursue a limited and carefully monitored nuclear arms program, rather than continuing insistent calls for total denuclearization.

“If there’s one thing that North Korea has demonstrated over and again, it’s that they want to have nuclear weapons,” said Jiang, who presented his study, “A Win-Win Strategy to Transform North Korea” on Jan. 9 at the Strategic Outcomes in the Korean Peninsula project, hosted by the Joint Staff and Defense Department. “Pyongyang looks at it as an insurance policy against the stated aims of nations like the U.S. and Japan, which is regime change. North Korea feels threatened and the Kim family sees these weapons as their one card to play.”

In allowing North Korea to continue pursuing a nuclear arsenal, albeit a limited one under strict supervision, the U.S. and other nations in the region, including China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, may just be able to coax Pyongyang out of its shell and possibly make inroads on the litany of human-rights abuses in the insular nation.

North Korean President Kim Jong-Un’s New Year’s Day address last month hinted at another summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, but many in the administration, and in previous presidential administrations, have said all talks are nonstarters as long as Pyongyang continues its nuclear ambitions.

“If it is peace we are after, true peace, then it really makes no sense to use the kind of combative language that we have been using when it comes to North Korea and its nuclear weapons,” Jiang said. “With total denuclearization as a condition, it’s unlikely any progress can be made. But if North Korea would abide by the international norms and stipulations that other nuclear powers abide by, there’s at least a starting point for diplomacy. If you’re going to get peace, you have to talk and if you’re not going to talk because of the pursuit of nuclear weapons, you’re not going to have peace. In fact, you’re risking something very much the opposite of peace.”

Jiang’s study was available to more than 4,000 experts across Defense Department channels, academia, think tanks and other agencies.

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