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Video Brief: North Korea

Author: Scott A. Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
March 1, 2012

Stability on the Korean peninsula and coping with Pyongyang have been longstanding frustrations for U.S. policymakers, says CFR's Scott A. Snyder. North Korea will require renewed attention from the winner of the 2012 U.S. presidential election due to its nuclear capabilities, uncertainty over its new leadership, and its central location in world's most vibrant economic region, he says.

But Snyder says North Korea may be "on the verge of a transformative moment" following the transition of power to Kim Jong-un after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

The U.S. president in 2013 will first have to weigh the challenge North Korea presents to the international non-proliferation regime. Second, the president will have to coordinate policy on North Korea with new leaders in both South Korea and China.

Finally, the president will have to decide whether to hold direct talks with North Korean leaders, Snyder says. This decision, he says, will largely depend on whether the North Korean leadership decides to pursue a reform path or a "path of confrontation" with the United States and the international community.

This video is part of Campaign 2012, a series of video briefings on the top foreign policy issues debated in the run-up to the 2012 elections.


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