The most immediate problem for the US policy agenda in Asia is the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Even though three years of Chinese sponsored multilateral talks produced a "joint statement" in 2005, constructive negotiations are still deadlocked. Washington, while symbolically placing North Korea among its highest security threats, has taken only few diplomatic initiatives and seems not to have adopted consistent policy goals and concepts. This article explores the making of US policy towards North Korea. I argue that among the most important reasons why US policy has not attained its goal of a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons are its own inconsistency regarding concepts and priorities, its uncontrolled rhetorical escalations, and its unilateralist neglect of the interests of East Asia's regional actors involved in the six party talks.