The European Union and North Korea: diplomacy and deterrence

Last week the European Parliament held an extraordinary joint hearing to discuss the continuing deterioration of the security situation in North Korea [1] and invited European Union official Mr Reinhold BRENDER, Head of Division for Japan, Korea, Australia New Zealand and Pacific, at the European External Action Service and experts such as Mr Antoine BONDAZ, Associate Professor in Sciences Po Paris.


North Korea – an international issue

It is worth remembering that he “nuclearization” of North Korea reflects a military and an international political issue. The European Union already adopted a number of legal acts imposing restrictive measures against the DPRK, which implement several UN Security Council resolutions – 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 and 2321 (2016) – and include additional autonomous measures that complement and reinforce the UN-based sanctions. These restrictive measures for the most part target the DPRK’s nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related programmes. They include prohibitions on the trade of goods, services and technology which could contribute to the DPRK’s above-mentioned programmes.

The European Commission’s official condemns the last development of nuclear and missile programs, which represent a serious threat to the international peace and security and in particular the last test of an intercontinental ballistic missile had a long range (about 10.000 – 11.000 km) meaning DPRK can reach the USA and Europe. It is therefore a fact that DPRK has the strike capabilities to reach US mainland and Europe.

The EU message is clear: “DPRK must abandon its programs immediately and respect the non-proliferation treaties”.

EU as a mediator

All experts in the room agree with the fact that a military intervention would be a bad option. The diplomatic solution is preferred and the EU has a role to play by supporting and coordinating the negotiation. Even if the final objective of the negotiations would be the denuclearization of DPRK, Mr Antoine Bondaz suggests having a short-term objective such as a freeze of the development in order to contain the threat. However, EU Official does not consider the freeze as an option because it would mean that the situation will be permanent. Mr Bondaz also emphasizes that some EU Member States have privileged access to the North Korean leader and can use it to facilitate the dialogue.

The US strategy did not change between President Obama and Trump

Ambassador Hill, Dean of the Josef Korbel School of the University of Denver, who made his presentation with skype insists on the psychology of Kim Jong-un who has the ambition and is determined “to finish the unfinished task of his father”. The fact that he refuses to consider the Chinese perspective was unthinkable in the time of his father. According to him, the US strategy did not change between Obama and Trump: South Korea, Japan and US can work together and it is also important that China works with the US.

On the agenda of NATO’s meeting

This topic was also on the agenda of the NATO’s Foreign Ministers meeting and Jens Stoltenberg, at his press conference, reminded that, since the beginning, events on the Korean peninsula have shaped NATO profoundly: the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 triggered the complete remodeling of the Alliance with the creation of a permanent military headquarters, and the positions of Secretary General and SACEUR. “It literally put the “O” in NATO.”

He also recalled the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea, which shows that all Allied nations could be within range. In light of this, the Ministers agreed to continue solidarity efforts with their regional partners, Japan and South Korea. They also agreed to maintain firm pressure on North Korea and to keep providing strong deterrence, while strongly supporting a peaceful, negotiated solution to the crisis:

“Our military strength is what makes diplomatic efforts possible.” (NATO’s chief)

[1] For more information on Macron’s Sorbonne speech, please refer to our previous article : The US decertify the Iran nuclear deal[retour au texte]

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