3) Avoiding accidents and miscalculations
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union established a hotline between the Kremlin and the White House to allow for better crisis communications. Both sides recognized that nuclear war could easily have occurred without either side wanting it, and that there were numerous incidents during the crisis that could have led to unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.
In the fog of a crisis, accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculations are all very real possibilities. Any crisis between the United States and North Korea would today face all of these risks, compounded by North Korea’s relative inexperience with nuclear weapons and the incentives that both sides have to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis.
Talks with North Korea could establish “rules of the road” that reduce the risk of crises occurring or spiralling out of control. For example, both sides would benefit from better understanding each other’s red lines for nuclear use; sharing information about upcoming military exercises; and establishing military to military communications and other avenues for swift communication in the event of crises.