By Samuel Burke, CNN
Journalist Mike Chinoy is one of the few Americans who knows North Korea and its leadership well.
He met the late Kim Il Sung and he has visited North Korea on fifteen occasions.
Chinoy has been closely watching the unfolding situation in the peninsula and in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday he said that the current situation boils down to the fact that North Korea has made a determination that they want to be treated as a nuclear power.
“They are taking steps to show that they won't be intimidated by U.N. sanctions’ resolutions, by American displays of force like B-52s or B-2 stealth bombers conducting mock bombing missions over Korea, and that they are prepared to stand their ground,” he said.
Chinoy traveled with President Carter when war nearly broke out between North Korea and the United States in 1994, but was averted through negotiations.
Some argue that is the approach that should be taken now, while others say that would be rewarding North Korea even though they’ve broken deals made in the past.
However, Chinoy contends that it is actually not so black and white.
“There is a conventional narrative that the North Koreans always do everything bad and nobody else does anything bad. The reality is that the North’s track record is mixed; they have, in fact, abided by some of their agreements to restrain some of their nuclear capacity over the years,” Chinoy told Amanpour. “And by the same token, the United States' track record is very mixed and Washington has not delivered a lot of what it has promised as well.”
A war will most likely be avoided, Chinoy predicted, but he said the real issue is the longer-term approach to dealing with a nuclear North Korea.
Absent an all-out war, Chinoy believes the only way something is likely to be accomplished is some type of a dialogue at a very high level.
Chinoy said that President Obama should consider naming someone outside the administration, like former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or former President Bill Clinton . Albright and Clinton both met Kim Jung-il.
“Send them, no strings attached, to just explore what might be possible, and to take Kim Jong-un's measure,” Chinoy said. He believes that this would help the U.S. learn about the new North Korean leader and get a sense of where he stands and in what ways he is different from his father.
“If you don't have a diplomatic track, what other options do you have if you're not going to go to war? Because it's clear that sanctioning and coercion do not product changes in North Korean behavior of the kind that the U.S. would like to see,” Chinoy said. “And what we've seen in the last few weeks shows that. Every time the U.S. has flexed its muscles, the North, instead of backing off, has flexed its own muscles in a more provocative way.”
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