Vice President Pence Consistently Inconsistent on North Korea


The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation reiterates that strengthening existing sanctions, coupled by direct diplomatic engagement is the best option in North Korea.


Hazel Correa
202.546.0795 x2115

Washington, DC – Today, Josh Rogin, a columnist for The Washington Post, reported that Vice President Pence is ruling out direct diplomacy with North Korea as an option to address Pyongyang’s growing ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities – while reiterating that “all options are on the table.” This policy announcement comes merely days after declaring that the United States was seeking to address the North Korean threat “through peaceable means, through negotiations.”

Former Congressman John Tierney, the Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, highlighted an obvious flaw in Vice President Pence’s comments:

“If all options are truly on the table, how is direct diplomacy not one of them? Either all options are on the table, or they aren’t. It is becoming more evident that sanctions alone, and even increased sanctions in any other context will not necessarily work any magic.”

“The Vice President is misunderstanding or ignoring history by claiming that all prior negotiations with North Korea have failed. The 1994 Agreed Framework virtually froze North Korea’s ballistic missile activity for years, and broke down in part due to both sides failing to follow through on promises and President George W. Bush effectively stopping engagement. The best option today involves coupling direct diplomatic engagement toward the negotiation of an immediate freeze of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, with existing sanctions being better implemented and enforced.” 

Alexandra Bell, the Center’s Senior Policy Director and a former U.S. State Department advisor, commented:

“With no ambassadors in the region, and a lack of senior national security leadership throughout the government, the Trump Administration’s policies toward North Korea have been inconsistent at best. Conflicting statements such as ruling out diplomacy, after recently indicating negotiations are on the table, severely damages U.S. credibility abroad.”

“To avoid military intervention, we must employ all diplomatic and economic measures available to us. At this time, we simply cannot afford to rule out negotiations.”