North Korea’s alleged nuclear test this week occurred deep underground in a mountain tunnel in the North Hamgyong Province, but in its aftermath, the world’s eyes are on Harvard Square.
Newspaper analyses—from Brunei
to New York
—have turned to Harvard experts on North Korea and nuclear proliferation.
Busy giving interviews and meeting with United Nations representatives since Monday’s incident, Jeffrey G. Lewis, the executive director of Harvard’s Managing the Atom (MTA) Project, added instructions to his voice mail message for press queries related to North Korea.
Harvard’s experts are in demand because the University’s extensive infrastructure, including the MTA Project at the Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School, has been geared toward resolving the stalled talks and nuclear problem in North Korea since long before Monday’s approximately half-kiloton nuclear blast.
Ashton B. Carter, co-director of Harvard’s Preventative Defense Project, said U.S. policy toward North Korea helped to make the country’s nuclear test possible.
“This is what happens when you are long on heated rhetoric but short on consequences,” he wrote in an e-mail yesterday.
Carter, who is also Ford Foundation professor of science and international affairs at the Kennedy School, wrote that he was “shocked but not surprised” by North Korea’s nuclear attempt.
Law School fellow Jason Qian and Kennedy School research fellow Anne Wu had warned of North Korean nuclear proliferation in a July 24 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Already being isolated and deprived, North Korea has little to lose by pursuing brinkmanship.”
A slew of other Harvard professors and researchers have issued similar predictions about the rise of nuclear power in North Korea.
“Despite the fact that [North Korea] has previously been warned,” said Graham T. Allison, Jr., Dillon professor of government at the Kennedy School, yesterday, “they disregarded it at a cost they were prepared to take.”
In the immediate future, Allison said that the United States must recognize its failure to prevent North Korea’s development of nuclear power.
“The next step should be to stop, take a deep breath, look the reality in the face unblinkingly, and recognize that the policy we and others have followed has failed,” said Allison, who was assistant secretary of defense for policy during the Clinton administration.
Lewis said that the United States should work to reassure its allies about its commitment to security.
“One may consider a few sanctions, but those would be largely symbolic since North Korea is pretty isolated,” he added.
Carter said that sanctions are the United States’s only option, but even sanctions will be ineffective.
“We don’t trade with North Korea or have diplomatic relations, so there is nothing we can take away from them. Our only stick is military, which there is no effective way to use at this juncture,” he said.
–Staff writer Madeline W. Lissner can be reached at email@example.com.