The assessment by the director-general of the IAEA has drawn attention to North Korea’s recent nuclear activities, fueling another round of debate over Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and its motives. The IAEA report should raise alarm about the increasing risks associated with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. All related states should ramp up their best efforts that would help restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea and freeze its nuclear activities as a first-phase denuclearization goal. As the IAEA report suggests, if nuclear negotiations continue to remain deadlocked, Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal continues to grow. Advancements in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities will not only add difficulties to future nuclear negotiations but also increase the cost of the denuclearization. If the related states could reach a nuclear agreement with North Korea today even by providing some diplomatic and economic incentives, the cost of denuclearizing the North would still be cheaper today than it will be tomorrow.
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