WASHINGTON, The realistic way to handle North Korea's nuclear threat in the event that diplomacy fails is through deterrence of war and containment of the North Korean regime, a U.S. expert said Tuesday.

Patrick M. Cronin, chair for Asia-Pacific security at the Hudson Institute, made the case in a piece for the Council on Foreign Relations amid a stalemate in denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

He argued that if the North cannot be persuaded to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, the U.S. should pursue a policy of deterrence and containment toward Pyongyang.

"Because interstate war between nuclear adversaries is a dismal means of achieving anything, and because opponents cannot be easily coerced into relinquishing their chief means of survival, the deterrence and containment of North Korea remain both feasible and less undesirable than the stark alternatives of war and appeasement," he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump held a second summit in Vietnam in February to seek concrete ways to dismantle the regime's nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief from the U.S.

The summit collapsed without any deal after the two sides failed to reconcile U.S. demands for complete denuclearization and North Korean demands for significant sanctions relief.

In support of his case, Cronin said deterrence and containment of North Korea worked in the past, including the period before the regime acquired a robust nuclear capability as well as in its "most critical" phase of acquiring nuclear weapons and their means of delivery.

"At the time of writing this essay, experimental diplomacy to ascertain the prospects for a rapprochement with North Korea continues," Cronin wrote. "But if at the end of the day we have given Kim every chance, and he has shown that he is unwilling to sacrifice any serious element of his nuclear weapon capability to end sanctions against his regime, then we must not allow a phony peace to endure, especially if it erodes a strong alliance."

He continued: "We cannot conjure up peace, nor should we embark on a nuclear war to achieve it. Instead, we must recognize that sometimes stability, including through a policy founded on deterrence of war and containment (or other means that subtly set conditions for a more stable but sensible status quo), may be the best we can do to manage a wicked problem in a world of complex challenges."

Source: Yonhap news Agency