Key Points

Today’s protracted conflicts are far from being resolved. Current policies may even be exacerbating them. The decision to apply tougher policies only to one or two countries has emboldened or enabled others to take advantage of this system. Thanks to a recent spate of legal and political challenges, however, there is a growing awareness of these unfair policies and their incongruity. Governments, international bodies, and NGOs are increasingly being held accountable. Given the importance of these conflicts, they should be.

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It remains to be seen if Washington can use the increasingly tough rhetorical position by the E3 to press its transatlantic partners for more action. Sanctions are still the currency of confidence between the U.S. and Europe to counter the Iranian missile threat, but the last batch of missile penalties from the EU came in December 2012.

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North Korea threatened last week to abandon diplomacy with the United States and resume nuclear and missile testing. Pyongyang’s actions are consistent with its hostile rhetoric; recent reports indicate the regime continues to build up its nuclear and missile infrastructure. If the Trump administration wants to maximize the prospects for serious nuclear negotiations, it will have to escalate pressure on the economic, diplomatic, and military fronts, to remind Kim Jong Un that North Korea will remain a pariah state unless he makes a strategic choice to give up his nuclear program.

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Think about that: What will it cost – in dollars but not just in dollars – to bury our dead and re-build Denver, New York, Washington or Los Angeles following a nuclear attack that we failed to prevent?

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