North Korea's nuclear-weapons programs confront us with hard choices. They create a sense of urgency to make another deal with the North, but experience tells us that any new agreement will not stem the flow of crises. However we handle the immediate crisis, we will do better if we do so while having in mind an end position -- something we have not done since the end of the Korean War 50 years ago. The argument here is that there should be different leadership in Pyongyang as a step towards the political unification of the peninsula.
Short of that goal, the main possibility for getting rid of the North's weapons is an agreed strategy between China and the United States. Unfortunately, there is no good evidence that this will happen.
The North's weapons pose three immediate challenges. Combined with its long-range missiles, North Korea's nuclear weapons could inflict devastation at long distances, including the United States. The threat to Japan is already rousing Tokyo to rearm. Worse still, the regime threatens to sell bombs to all comers, including terrorist organizations.