Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, President of the Daniel Morgan Graduate School (DMGS), was recently interviewed by The Cipher Brief regarding what lessons can be learned from previous attempts to talk to North Korea:

The fifth North Korean nuclear test has left policy makers scrambling for both short term and long term solutions to a problem that, so far, has no solution. Many experts have called for a return to a multilateral negotiation framework such as the Six Party Talks. The Cipher Brief spoke with former Ambassador DeTrani, a special envoy to those talks, to see what lessons can be learned from previous attempts to talk to Pyongyang.

The Cipher Brief: The G20, ASEAN, Obama’s last visit in Asia, and North Korea’s Independence Day were all events concurrent with the nuclear test. How does the regional state of play factor into the decision to conduct a nuclear test?

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani: Historically, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and launched missiles on anniversary dates, unique to the U.S. or North Korea.  It’s therefore not surprising that the 5th nuclear test was on North Korea’s Independence Day.  What’s more important, however, is that this test was in line with Pyongyang’s focus on nuclear weapon miniaturization and its efforts to mate miniaturized nuclear weapons to a missile delivery system capable eventually of reaching the United States.  Thus this test was a message to the U.S. and its allies in South Korea and Japan that North Korea has nuclear weapons that could be used against these countries – and eventually against the U.S.

TCB: The Obama administration and the international community have increased sanctions since the previous nuclear test. What options are still available to policy makers? What is the likelihood we will see something above and beyond sanctions? . . . (read the rest)