(CNN)Pressure will work only if there is also some reason for North Korea to make concessions. Pyongyang has indicated in the past that it seeks a formal end to the Korean War (Washington signed only an armistice in 1953), a recognition of the regime and the lifting of sanctions. Obviously none of this should be offered right now, but there is no harm in talking to Pyongyang and searching for ways to trade some of these concessions for the complete eradication of the nuclear program.
What if North Korea conventional wisdom is wrong?
It's a bitter pill for Washington to swallow, but the alternative is to hope that China will act against its interests and crush its ally, or that North Korea will finally collapse. But hope is not a strategy.