- Threats posed by the North Korean nuclear and missile programs must be front and center in U.S. national security decisionmaking.
- The United States and China should agree to seek to prevent the Korean Peninsula from becoming the object of U.S.-China military confrontation or conflict.
- A large-scale peninsular and regional conflict, involving hundreds of thousands of troops and potentially hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, would likely ensue from a preemptive U.S. military strike on North Korea.
- The threshold for preemptive U.S. military action against North Korea should be the imminent launch of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile directed at the United States or its allies.
- The United States should, in coordination with U.S. allies and China, significantly intensify economic, diplomatic, and other forms of pressure on North Korea and its leadership in order to compel Pyongyang to negotiate a near-term, verifiable freeze of its nuclear and missile programs, accompanied by a long-term North Korean commitment to denuclearization.
- Such a strategy would entail complex and carefully calibrated negotiations with North Korea, U.S. allies, and China, and therefore require unprecedented policymaking capacity and coordination across the U.S. government.
The real issue here is whether China and Russia will be prepared to go into domains that until now they have not been prepared to enter and that very specifically concerns oil.
If the Chinese and the Russians both would be prepared to limit, or suspend outright, oil deliveries to the north, that's a very consequential step. It may have a much, much more potent effect than all of these issues related to sanctions.