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Diplomacy with China is the only option left to 'put a ceiling' on North Korea, political analysts say

  • It's worth appealing to China to be a mediator in the North Korean crisis, says Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas.
  • Bruce Andrews, former deputy Commerce secretary, suggests building an "international coalition" with trading partners to push Chinese action.
  • Military action could "start a huge American brush fire," says former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson.

As options to subdue North Korea run scarce, pushing China to act as a mediator through diplomacy may be the only way the U.S. can emerge unscathed, political analysts said.

"The words 'solution' and 'North Korea' have probably never been mentioned in the same sentence before," said Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas on Wednesday.

"The only approach in between, or alternative, is some kind of a diplomatic approach," Haas said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street." "Increase the sanctions against Chinese entities, and try to get some kind of a freeze with North Korea. It's not going to solve the problem, but may put a ceiling on it."

China "remains the single most influential outside force on determining North Korean policy," he said.

"I think it's worth making an appeal to them, putting pressure on them, also looking to reassure them," Haas said. "There are things we can say about our goals there that also send some messages of reassurance to China, mixed in with the pressure."

Former Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews suggested building an "international coalition" with trading partners such as Europe, Japan and South Korea to "push the Chinese not just on the North Korean issue, but some of their bad behavior in the trade space."

This includes addressing concerns such as steel overcapacity and limitations imposed on American companies entering Chinese markets, Andrews said Wednesday on "Squawk on the Street."

There aren't many good options left, according to Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and former governor of New Mexico. With military action having the potential to "start a huge American brush fire," diplomacy seems to be the only path at the moment with the least potential damage.

President Donald Trump has "gotta say to the president of China, 'Look, your pressure on North Korea hasn't worked,'" Richardson said Wednesday on "Squawk on the Street." "'Are you going to do more; are you going to step in? Or we have to take an important step that you may not like. Some of the benefits that we talked with you [about] on trade are not going to happen, or some sanctions on steel, or any other issues.'"