IN OTHER WORDS:Give and take
North Korea has announced plans for a satellite — read missile —launch between April 4 and April 8. President Obama needs to seek ways to dissuade Pyongyang from firing a missile over the Sea of Japan and the Pacific. But if that fails, the Obama administration will have to muster the kind of restraint the previous administration displayed in 2006. President Bush’s North Korean envoy, Ambassador Christopher Hill, still managed to engage in fruitful negotiations with North Korea just weeks after it conducted a nuclear test explosion.
North Korea has not been shy about voicing its grievances with the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Japan and South Korea, for disparate reasons, have not been delivering the heavy fuel oil the North is supposed to receive in exchange for disabling its
sole nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. If the Obama administration cannot convince its Japanese and South Korean allies to make the oil deliveries, it could seek other sources. North Korea doesn’t care where the fuel comes from.
Obama will also need to refrain from imposing sanctions on the North if it goes through with a ballistic missile test. Sanctions will not produce the desired results. Only in direct, give-and-take negotiations can North Korea be persuaded to close down its missile and nuclear programs.