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Scholar says world should step up pressure on provocative N.K.

The international community has to look for ways to increase pressure on North Korea should the communist state continue its provocative behavior, a prominent U.S. scholar said Tuesday, noting the current sanctions on the North can be "effective." 

During an interview with reporters in Seoul, John J. Hamre, the president of the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, also said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is proceeding down a path where "there is no end and no opportunity" for finding a solution to the longstanding nuclear standoff. 

"If North Korea continues with its provocative activities, we will have to look at ways to heighten and increase the pressure of the sanctions," he said in the interview on the sidelines of the Asan Plenum 2016, an annual forum hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

His remarks came as Pyongyang has been raising military tensions on the peninsula with land- and sea-based ballistic missile tests and threatened to detonate another nuclear device, which experts say would bring the North closer to its goal of becoming a de facto nuclear-weapon state. 

Pointing to Pyongyang's recent menacing rhetoric and provocative activities, the scholar said that they were not "qualitatively different" from the North's past behavior. But he noted that their intensity has increased.

"They've continued to pursue a path where they are trying to intimidate the world into accepting them as a legitimate country using threats of violence. They have become more intense in demonstrating that," he said.

On the issue of growing calls in South Korea for its own nuclear armament, Hamre stressed that it will be a "real mistake" for the South to go nuclear.

"Right now, Korea has enormous moral authority and the support of the world because it is threatened by an illegitimate North Korean act of intimidation with nuclear weapons," he said. "It would undermine its moral authority if it developed nuclear weapons."

But he acknowledged that the question has been raised over the credibility of America's extended deterrence for the South -- the U.S.' commitment to mobilizing a full range of its military assets to counter the threats from Pyongyang's nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

"I think the next president is going to have to work very hard to revalidate America's commitment and your confidence in America that will be willing to defend you so that you have a nuclear guarantee," he said.

Touching on Donald Trump's campaign that observers said smacked of isolationism, Hamre said the Republican frontrunner's views represent only a "minority" in America.

"It certainly does not reflect the foreign policy and defense policy establishment," he said. "I think there is a very strong consensus that the alliances that America has with Korea, Japan and NATO are fundamental to our national interests." (Yonhap)

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