Upcoming Events

Nuclear North Korea

Date : May 03, 2017
Time : 6:00-8:00pm
Place : Horizon Ballroom, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20004

Join us for a wine and cheese reception before the event.


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On May 3, 2017, the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC hosted Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, Dr. Matthew Kroenig, Joel Wit, and Sharon Weinberger for a Foreign Policy Panel Series: “Nuclear North Korea: How to Respond.” 

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is the former Special Envoy to North Korea during the first Round of Six-Party Talks in 2003.  Dr. Matthew Kroenig is a fellow at the Atlantic Council who specializes in nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. Joel Wit is currently a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and helped implement the US-North Korea Agreed Framework from 1995-1999. Sharon Weinberger moderated the discussion at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. She is a journalist and author who specializes in nuclear weapons and security studies.      

WAC-DC International Affairs Director, Stephanie Fassler provided introductory remarks regarding North Korea’s Nuclear Program. North Korea was suspected of starting a clandestine nuclear program in the late 1980’s. By 1995 it had become evident to the world that North Korea was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The US-North Korean Agreed Framework was subsequently implemented, which would lead to non-weapons grade, light water nuclear reactors being installed at North Korean nuclear plants, and lead to the normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States. In 2003, after it became evident that North Korea would not surrender their nuclear weapons program, the first round of the Six-Party talks occurred between the US, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan in order to find a peaceful solution to North Korea’s weapons program. In 2006, fears were confirmed when North Korea leader Kim Jong-il tested his nation’s first nuclear weapon. When Kim Jong-un took power in 2012 he made the development of nuclear weapons a priority, and has conducted more nuclear and missile tests than both his father and grandfather combined. 

The moderator for the event, Sharon Weinberger, also outlined the events that have occurred since the Executive Order was placed. She described the various negotiations and treaties signed as well as gave a brief overview of sanctions brought against North Korea.   

Ambassador DeTrani discussed China’s role in influencing North Korea, stating that, “China can only use their leverage when dealing with North Korea; they can not force North Korea to do anything.” He also described how significant China’s leverage is by stating that 85% of North Korea’s Trade is from China and that China provides almost all of North Korea’s fuel. When it came to de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula Amb. DeTrani stated that future treaties must: “look for comprehensive and verifiable signs of de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Dr. Kroenig used his expertise in nuclear security and non-proliferation to contribute insights on the deployment of the THAAD missile defense systems to the DMZ, and described China’s objections to the US having a sizeable and well armed military presence so close to their territory. He also stated that, “In the past eight years North Korea had enough missile materials to make between 5 and 8 nuclear warheads. Now they have enough materials to make approximately 30 warheads.”

Joel Wit’s experience in designing and implementing the US-North Korean Agreed Framework helped the audience understand that North Korea has complied with treaties to an extent in the past. However, for us to successfully negotiate with North Korea we must ask ourselves “Why would North Korea reach an agreement with us now? What is in it for them?” Mr. Wit also helped in explaining to the audience that things are “not as bad as the media makes it out to be.”

The audience was comprised of WAC-DC members, correspondents of the press, representatives of diplomatic corps, and members of the general public. The event was recorded for broadcast on our television program World Affairs TODAY.

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