The Korea Herald


US weighs sanctions, incentives under NK policy review

By Kim So-hyun

Published : Feb. 2, 2021 - 13:55

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AP-Yonhap) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AP-Yonhap)
The United States is reviewing its North Korea policy to use the most effective tools to advance the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his first media interview since taking office last week.

Blinken said that included a possibility of further sanctions in coordination with US allies, as well as unspecified diplomatic incentives, he said in an interview with broadcaster NBC aired Monday evening, local time.

Asked whether it was time to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power and whether denuclearizing North Korea was beyond any aspiration at this stage, Blinken said, “This is a problem, a bad problem that has gotten worse over time. And I would be the first to acknowledge that it’s a problem that’s gotten worse across administrations.”

“So the first thing the president had asked -- has asked us to do is to review the policy to make sure that we’re using the most effective tools to advance the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to deal with the problem, the growing problem, posed by North Korea’s arsenal,” he said.

In response to a question on what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has to do to get a meeting with US President Joe Biden, Blinken avoided giving a straight answer.

“The first thing we’re going to do is to review the policy across the board to look at what tools we have, including additional sanctions, including especially additional coordination and cooperation with allies and partners, but also to look at diplomatic incentives,” he said.

“So once we do that, we’ll be able to tell you how we plan to move forward.”

About where he would be visiting first -- Iran or North Korea – Blinken said his first port of call would be “probably in Europe and in Asia with our closest allies and partners, and I hope that day comes soon.”

Focusing more on its diplomatic priorities such as China, Russia and Iran, the Biden administration has stopped short of saying anything specific on what it plans to do with North Korea.

During his confirmation hearing at the US Senate on Jan. 19, Blinken had said the Biden administration has to and intends to review the entire approach and policy toward North Korea.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Jan. 22 that the administration will adopt “a new strategy” which will “begin with a thorough policy review of the state of play in North Korea, in close consultations with South Korea, Japan and other allies on ongoing pressure options and the potential for any future diplomacy.”

By Kim So-hyun (