Negotiating with North Korea


On November 9th – the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – the Center for a New American Security released a detailed report with policy recommendations about how to engage effectively with North Korea.  “Hard Lessons:  Navigating Negotiations with the DPRK” is the culmination of an intensive six-month effort that involved interviews and roundtables with nearly fifty experts, from past negotiators from the U.S. and South Korea, to journalists and academics with deep historical knowledge. The project was timed to have the greatest impact on administration decision-makers: CNAS and the project were headed by Kurt Campbell, who is now the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  As a result, the report’s key findings and the wisdom of some 20 years of negotiating experience was carried directly by Campbell into the State Department’s diplomatic elite.  A fundamental “lesson learned” is that negotiations need to be held in the context of the long-view of our goals with North Korea.  That is, negotiations are the tactics, and our goals are strategic and longer term.  The report recommends concrete steps as well as principles and cautions that the U.S. must be prepared for frustration and disappointment, but must also be committed to the endgame – abandonment by the DPRK of its nuclear program.