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Clinton, Biden adviser urges diplomatic path forward in handling North Korea

Jake Sullivan on North Korea, Clinton
Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan on North Korea policy, Iran tensions, and why Hillary lost 08:39

While the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea heat up over threats of a possible military conflict, Jake Sullivan, a top foreign policy adviser to both Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, is urging "resolve, calm and consistent leadership" in the face of the regime. 

Sullivan suggested that the message in Mr. Trump's Tuesday fiery warning to North Korea Tuesday may have been misguided.

"The problem with what the president said yesterday is it puts all the attention on the U.S. and what the U.S. is thinking, when the attention should be on North Korea and building pressure against North Korea so we can produce a diplomatic outcome," said Sullivan on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday.

"It just doesn't help when our allies and countries in the region can't tell whether it's Donald Trump or Kim Jong Un who's the crazier one," he added. 

Sullivan, who was part of negotiations that led to the crafting of the Iranian nuclear deal during the Obama administration, says it's vital for Mr. Trump not to scuttle that deal, particularly as the U.S. weighs similar consequences in dealing with North Korea's nuclear provocations. 

"If you look at what were dealing with in North Korea right now, we are running up against the possibility of having to use military force to stop the North Korean's from putting a bomb on top of missile. That is not a concern we have today with Iran because Iran's nuclear program is in a box," said Sullivan. 

"Blowing up the Iran nuclear deal at a moment when we're dealing with North Korea seems like it is creating a problem that doesn't currently exist."

Despite his criticism of the Trump administration's approach, Sullivan is sympathetic to its efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear programs.

"Anyone who works on North Korean policy has to approach it with humility, because both Democratic and Republican presidents have failed to stop North Korea's march forward," Sullivan said. "That's been true going back 30 years."  

He added, "Trump has the possibility of getting China's attention in a way that's more direct and decisive than previous administrations could because of how far North Korea has come."

The adviser suggested that it's possible now to have "the U.S. and China sit down and essentially get the North Koreans to freeze testing, freeze the progress and put us in a position where we can slow this clock down" in return for a number of incentives, such as direct monetary payments to the North. 

"In the past it was on the U.S. to make those payments. I would argue it's time for China to actually step up," said Sullivan.  "China should be paying not just for North Korean coal, but compliance."

He added, "If there's one thing the Chinese have to be able to put to use in this, it's that and no previous administration has really tried this approach. I think it's worth trying today." 

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