U.S. think tank Center for a New American Security has urged President Barack Obama or Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to consider dialogue with North Korea should the next South Korean administration embrace re-engagement.
The center was established by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and former undersecretary of defense for policy Michèle Flournoy and has hired several officials in the Obama administration and Senate. It is considered a major influence on the Obama administration’s foreign policies.
The report, "Nation Security Guides to the 2012 Presidential Election," said North Korea "will pose several tests for the next president." The next U.S. president “will need to determine whether any diplomatic options exist for making progress on bilateral disagreements." It also advises that the next U.S. leader to "prepare for the likelihood that the newly elected South Korean government will seek a policy of greater engagement with North Korea, and decide whether he would support this policy."
The Lee Myung-bak government has taken a hardline approach, but Lee's five-year term ends in February.
The report warns that Washington may have to "prepare for the possibility of a sudden upheaval in North Korea, which could lead to a massive humanitarian disaster and refugee flows, insecure nuclear weapons and potential combat operations between the two Koreas, which could draw in both the U.S. and Chinese militaries."