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Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill said that doubling down the pressure on China is the best way for the U.S to deal with North Korea.
For decades, the U.S. and other members of the international community have tried to negotiate to end to North Korea’s ballistic missile technology and nuclear development with little success. Even after being slapped with sanctions from the U.N., North Korea has carried out ballistic missile tests as recently as Wednesday — just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“If I were Tillerson and the Chinese said look we are worried about this or that. I would say I’m going to have someone over here in two days and we are going to talk about U.S. interests,” Hill said to Chuck Todd in an interview for the “1947: The Meet the Press Podcast.”
Hill says, “I would really drill down heavily with the Chinese to make sure there is no misunderstanding.”
Hill’s experience as an ambassador goes beyond his time in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Currently the dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Hill was also the ambassador to Iraq, Poland and served as the lead negotiator for the United States in the six party talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“I wouldn’t give the Chinese a day without hearing a serious American view about what peace and security in the Korean peninsula would look like,” said Hill.
Hill says that China’s hesitation to work with the U.S. to a belief in China that North Korea’s demise would give the U.S. a “strategic advantage.” But in order to reel in more support from the Chinese, Hill suggests that the U.S. make it clear that it won’t go after China for issues concerning trade or Tibet.
On the other side of the equation, Hill recommends that the Trump Administration strengthen relationships with North Korea’s neighbors. “I would really enhance the South Korean alliance and Japan for that matter,” said Hill. “I would be continuing to deploy the best the anti-missile system we have and we are doing just that…at the same time, I would be explaining it to the Chinese every day that this is what allies need to do for other allies.
The question of whether the North Koreans have the capability to launch a nuclear war has been a heated topic for ages. Hill, who describes “bluffing” and “being opaque” as a part of North Korea’s national security strategy, says that despite their “ramshackle looking reactor” producing nuclear materials is not an impossible feat for the country.
“We see an intent and we see a capability to put it all together. And at some point, probably in the next few short years, they will have a deliverable nuclear weapon,” said Hill.