The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will pursue a "practical" approach toward ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons and will not focus on striking a grand bargain, the White House said Friday upon completion of a months-long policy review on North Korea.
"Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Philadelphia, while noting the administration has a "clear understanding" that the efforts of past administrations have not achieved the objective.
"Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore more diplomacy with the DPRK, and to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and deployed forces," she added.
DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
While details remain unclear, Psaki suggested that the Biden administration wishes to avoid following in the footsteps of recent U.S. administrations, saying its policy will "not focus on achieving a grand bargain nor will it rely on strategic patience."
Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, who in 2018 became the first sitting U.S. leader to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had pushed for a "big deal" under which all sanctions would be lifted if North Korea gave up all of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
But North Korea had called for an incremental, action-for-action process in which Pyongyang would secure concessions such as sanctions relief for each move it made toward denuclearization.
A second U.S.-North Korea summit, which took place in 2019 in Hanoi, broke down when Kim insisted that a significant portion of the U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang be lifted in return for a partial dismantlement of the country's nuclear program.
Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, in which Biden served as vice president for eight years through January 2017, Washington adopted a "strategic patience" policy, designed to put more pressure on the reclusive country while waiting for it to return to denuclearization talks.
But critics have termed it a failure as North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities have continuously advanced.
Psaki also said Friday that the Biden administration will continue to consult with Japan, South Korea and other allies "every step along the way" in dealing with North Korea.
"We have and will continue to consult with the Republic of Korea, Japan and other allies and partners in every step along the way," she added, referring to South Korea by its official name.
The Biden administration admitted in March that it had been reaching out to the North Korean government since mid-February in a bid to reduce the risk of escalation. But at that time, the administration said it had yet to receive any direct response through diplomatic channels.
North Korea has not tested intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear devices since 2017, but it is believed to have continued honing its military capabilities while nuclear negotiations were in a stalemate.
On March 25, North Korea resumed ballistic missile tests after a yearlong hiatus, firing what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Pyongyang from using ballistic technology.