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KFAS-EAI-Belfer Center Track II Roundtable: “Navigating Tensions on the Korean Peninsula”

 

October 19, 2016
Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, USA


An open seminar titled “Navigating Tensions on the Korean Peninsula” was jointly held by Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS), the East Asia Institute (EAI), and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University October 19 at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge. Experts, students, and professors attended the seminar.

 


Dr. Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center; Dr. Sook Jong Lee, President of EAI; and Amb. In-kook Park, President of KFAS delivered welcoming remarks. Afterwards, former Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg delivered a keynote address.

 


Mr. Steinberg expounded on the five key premises that the current U.S. policy is based on.
“First, to the US, South Korea, and Japan, nuclear represents unacceptable danger. Second, the North Korean regime is an odious regime, but the objective of our policy is not to overthrow the regime. Third, the principal factor for North Korea’s nuclear program is regime survival. Fourth, any resolution has to be done in concert between the US and South Korea. It should not be resolved independently by either partner. Fifth, the security commitment of the US to South Korea is firm and unequivocal.”


He emphasized that these core premises should be maintained. He added that when developing policies toward North Korea, it will have to be judged for wider ramifications, for instance, how certain choices will affect decisions being made in the Middle East or in Europe.

 


A panel session that was moderated by Dr. John Park of the Belfer Center followed. The presenters were Dr. Gary Samore from the Belfer Center; Dr. Sook Jong Lee of the EAI; Prof. Byung-Yeon Kim of Seoul National University; and Dr. Beomchul Shin of Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. Following questions were discussed:
- How can the U.S. reassure South Korea on the durability of extended deterrence?
- How will Seoul manage inter-Korean relations amid continued North Korean advancements in its nuclear and missile programs?
- What are the implications for Seoul of deepening Sino-DPRK commercial and trade ties?
- How will Seoul manage relations with Beijing amid the deployment of the THAAD ballistic missile defense system?




After the panel discussion, an afternoon keynote address was given by Kurt Campbell, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Mr. Campbell noted that U.S.-ROK relations have made great progress over the years and expressed his high hopes for the future of this relationship despite the enormous challenges ahead of us. He stated that South Korea should take the lead in any international engagement with regards to North Korea. Also, the U.S. encourages close coordination between South Korea and China, and it wants to see improvement in relationship between South Korea and Japan, two of its important strategic allies.


A lively discussion with the audience followed, during which the audience asked questions about past U.S. policy toward North Korea and the future prospects of U.S.-ROK relations. 
 
 

 

 

 

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