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Former U.S. negotiator: Learn to live with a nuclear North Korea (for now)

As the Obama administration struggles about whether or not to reengage the North Koreans by sending Amb. Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang,  experts over at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies are getting ready to release a new prescription for U.S. policy there. The paper (pdf), principally authored by former North Korea negotiator Joel ...

As the Obama administration struggles about whether or not to reengage the North Koreans by sending Amb. Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang,  experts over at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies are getting ready to release a new prescription for U.S. policy there.

The paper (pdf), principally authored by former North Korea negotiator Joel Wit, lays out a framework for renewing an approach with Kim Jong Il‘s regime. It argues that the United States must take action before a new and unpredictable North Korean leader ascends, that America must live with a nuclear North Korea without accepting its status as a nuclear state for the time being and that the Obama administration must avoid overreaching for ambitious goals while seeking incremental steps that could improve relations.

"The idea, when we started this report in April just after the missile test, was to chart a course back to dialogue that the administration could use in the future," said Wit, "since we all knew that was what would eventually happen."

One idea that apparently won’t work is South Korean President Lee Myung-bak‘s suggestion of a "Grand Bargain" with the North to resolve all outstanding issues, which the North Koreans rejected recently through their public statement Web site.

As the Obama administration struggles about whether or not to reengage the North Koreans by sending Amb. Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang,  experts over at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies are getting ready to release a new prescription for U.S. policy there.

The paper (pdf), principally authored by former North Korea negotiator Joel Wit, lays out a framework for renewing an approach with Kim Jong Il‘s regime. It argues that the United States must take action before a new and unpredictable North Korean leader ascends, that America must live with a nuclear North Korea without accepting its status as a nuclear state for the time being and that the Obama administration must avoid overreaching for ambitious goals while seeking incremental steps that could improve relations.

"The idea, when we started this report in April just after the missile test, was to chart a course back to dialogue that the administration could use in the future," said Wit, "since we all knew that was what would eventually happen."

One idea that apparently won’t work is South Korean President Lee Myung-bak‘s suggestion of a "Grand Bargain" with the North to resolve all outstanding issues, which the North Koreans rejected recently through their public statement Web site.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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