Risk Reduction & Confidence Building on the Korean Peninsula: Challenges, Opportunities & Implications for Regional Stability

January 19, 2011
Seoul, Republic of Korea

This meeting was a one-day trilateral dialogue organized by IFPA, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

The meeting focused on risk reduction and addressed such topics as reducing proliferation risks, denuclearization, and peace regime building on the Korean Peninsula. Participants included policy makers and subject matter experts from the United States, the Republic of Korea, and China. The organizers' primary aims were 1) to map the current security environment in Northeast Asia in the wake of the Cheonan incident, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, and leadership changes in Pyongyang, including options for reducing risks and strengthening deterrence over the near and mid-term; 2) to consider the priorities and opportunities over the longer term for revamping crisis management and related security arrangements to enhance stability on the Korean Peninsula; 3) to identify realistic strategies for countering North Korean nuclear capabilities and proliferation potential via bilateral, trilateral, and wider multilateral mechanisms; and 4) discuss how a potential new security structure in Northeast Asia could help to create and sustain conditions conducive to a lasting peace regime on and around the Korean Peninsula.

Meeting participants explored these questions:

  • Given the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents, the latest revelations about the DPRK's enrichment activities, and ongoing questions regarding the leadership transition in North Korea, how do the major parties evaluate the current geostrategic environment, including current threats to regional stability and changing calculations with respect to crisis management and deterrence requirements? How have key bilateral relations changed, and how are those changes likely to affect long-term regional security dynamics?
  • What more can be done to reduce WMD and conventional threats to regional stability over the mid- to long-term? How might additional efforts reinforce existing measures to reduce proliferation risks?
  • To what extent can we revitalize outdated conflict prevention regimes on the Korean Peninsula (including elements of the Armistice), and how can these revamped institutions and arrangements help set the conditions for a new and improved security architecture on and around the Korean Peninsula?
  • Are there existing opportunities or can opportunities be created to establish credible ties with the changing North Korean leadership arrangement – with Kim Jong Eun anointed and Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok deceased? How can we increase the chances of bringing Pyongyang into the community of nations, or, at least, prevent further alienation?
  • Can a new regional security structure along these lines lead to a sustainable peace regime on the Peninsula? If so, how can the relevant parties work together to coordinate policies, goals, and objectives in order to establish such a regime? If not, what are the most viable alternatives?