North Korea confirmed on Sunday that it had carried out a successful test of a hydrogen bomb designed for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“I think the talk about military action [against Pyongyang] is totally out of the question. More severe sanctions might be needed and China has already said that it will not allow North Korea to continue on this path. More severe sanctions mean that nothing will be going to North Korea except food and medicine. There will be no fuel and no other products that would help enhance [North Korea’s] nuclear program,” Howard Stoffer said.
“Other than that, I think we should be looking at various ways that we can use diplomacy. I also think that [Kim Jong-un] is already anticipating what the rest of the world will do. He is a rational actor and he knows what he can do within certain parameters and how far he can push things,” Stoffer continued.
When asked why there have been no proposals by the United Nations for North Korea, China, the United States and Russia to sit together and discuss the situation at hand, he said that much depends on the personalities involved in this process.
“In Washington we have President Trump who is often shooting from the hip with his unworkable idea of cutting off all trade with countries that trade with North Korea,” Stoffer noted.
In May, the UN Security Council unanimously backed a resolution tightening sanctions against North Korea due to its ballistic missile activities.
The new round of sanctions is intended to cut 33 percent of Pyongyang's $3 billion annual export budget.
Meanwhile, Switzerland said it was willing to act as a mediator in the conflict.
“As for the Swiss proposal, I think we should welcome any country willing to host diplomatic talks between North Korea and any group of countries, including the US. I still believe that the UN is in a better position to do that though,” Howard Stoffer said.
“I still think that diplomacy has to run its course before we start talking about any military actions,” he emphasized.
When asked to elaborate on President Trump’s diplomacy so far with regard to North Korea, Stoffer said that Trump has threatened South Korea with cutting off bilateral trade, called Seoul’s wish to negotiate with Pyongyang “appeasement” and hasn’t been altogether helpful.
“However, with the need to raise the debt ceiling by the end of this month and to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane in Texas, I don’t think the US needs to be initiating any kind of action that would capture the world’s attention and not be able to deal with domestic problems,” Howard Stoffer concluded.
Sunday’s test near the town of Kilju was already the sixth nuclear test Pyongyang has conducted since 2006 and came just days after after the country launched a ballistic missile over Japanese territory.
Tokyo has condemned North Korea in the strongest terms through its embassy in Beijing and will coordinate its actions with the United States and
South Korea to request an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter.