The Dangers of a Nuclear North Korea - Brookings Institution
Even before his election, Barack Obama had signaled his willingness to meet at a high level with officials of governments like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), a stance that caused great anxiety on the part of America’s South Korean and Japanese allies. Specialists advising his campaign, some of whom would later join the new government, had conducted diplomacy with Pyongyang during the late Clinton Administration, perhaps the least acrimonious period in U.S.-DPRK relations. As it came into office, the new administration sent private reaffirmation of its intent to engage.
Yet despite the open hand that President Obama offered America’s adversaries in his inaugural address, North Korea chose to respond with a clenched fist. It tested a long-range ballistic missile on April 4, 2009 and a nuclear device several weeks later on May 25th. Planning for these provocations probably began before the president took office and before his policy took shape.