Hardliner on N. Korea set to become next US secretary of state

Posted on : 2020-11-24 17:28 KST Modified on : 2020-11-24 17:28 KST
Antony Blinken has mentioned applying “Iran model” to pressure Pyongyang
Antony Blinken, who has been designated to become the next secretary of state under the upcoming Joe Biden administration. (AP/Yonhap News)
Antony Blinken, who has been designated to become the next secretary of state under the upcoming Joe Biden administration. (AP/Yonhap News)

Former US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 58, has been designated to serve as the first secretary of state under the incoming Joe Biden administration, US media reported on Nov. 22. Jake Sullivan, 43, who previously served as national security advisor to the vice president, has been named for the position of White House national security advisor, a key member of the foreign affairs and national security lineup alongside the secretary of state.

Ron Klain, who has been designated as the White House chief of staff for Biden, said in an interview that day with ABC that “you're going to see the first of the president-elect's cabinet appointments on Tuesday of this week.”

US news outlets reported that Blinken and Sullivan would be included in the official announcement on Nov. 24.

Blinken is a key aide in the area of foreign affairs and national security, which he has been advising Biden on for nearly 20 years. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, he served on the White House National Security Council under the Bill Clinton administration and worked as an aide to Biden while he was chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee between 2002 and 2008. Blinken was the national security advisor to then Vice President Biden during the first term of the Barack Obama administration, before serving as White House national security advisor and deputy secretary of state during its second term. He also played the role of a control tower on foreign affairs and national security for Biden’s camp during the last presidential election.

Blinken has been a strong proponent of the foreign affairs and national security policy outlined by Biden, which involves multilateralism and the restoration of alliances. Commenting on the US’ global role during a CBS interview last September, Blinken said, “I would sum it up in three words: leadership, cooperation and democracy.” He was also critical of the Donald Trump administration’s decision to scale back US forces in Germany, stating in a July interview that Biden would “review” the reduction plan if elected.

Blinken has been a vocal supporter of sanctions against North Korea, a position that is likely to have a major impact on the Biden administration’s approach to North Korea policy. In his September interview with CBS, he maintained that the same approach used in the Iran nuclear agreement — imposing powerful economic sanctions to win a pledge to abandon its nuclear development program — should also be applied to North Korea.

“We have to work closely with allies like South Korea and Japan and press China to build genuine economic pressure to squeeze North Korea to get it to the negotiating table,” he asserted.

“We need to cut off its various avenues and access to resources — something we were doing very vigorously at the end of the Obama-Biden administration,” he continued.

“That takes a lot of time, a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work. But again, it can pay off.”

His message called for preventing North Korea’s biggest trading partner China from serving as a source of funds.

Blinken has also advocated international coordination to apply pressure on China. At a Hudson Institute forum in July, he stressed the importance of competing with China based on multilateral cooperation to advance trade, technology investments, and human rights rather than pressuring individual countries to choose between the US and Chinese economies.

Sullivan, set to become the next White House national security advisor, is another veteran of the Obama-Biden team. A Yale Law School graduate, he supervised policy planning under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Obama administration. When Blinken moved from the position of then Vice President Biden’s national security advisor to deputy secretary of state, Sullivan succeeded him in advising Biden. He is reported to have played a key role in reaching the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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