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A Decision on North Korea

July 10, 2017
Weekly Columns
For more than fifty years the United States has had a contentious and adverse relationship with North Korea. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, we have maintained a military presence in South Korea and have considered South Korea as a strong ally in the region.
While the relationship between the two nations has long simmered, the past four decades have focused on North Korea’s quest to attain nuclear capabilities and the United States’ efforts to prevent it from doing so. Despite our efforts at diplomacy, sanctions, military exercises and other methods to thwart North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, it has continued to make progress towards achieving its goal to become a nuclear power. North Korea exploded its first nuclear device in 2006 - since then it has detonated at least six more.
Any efforts to achieve nuclear capability by an adversary of the United States is a matter of grave concern. But when that adversary is led by a ruthless and unstable dictator, the concern is even greater. Kim Jong-un is the grandson of Kim Il-sung who was the first President of North Korea, and the son of Kim Jong-il, the second President of North Korea. And while the elder two members of the Kim dynasty were cruel and barbaric dictators, the young, current leader is erratic, paranoid and completely unpredictable.
Under Kim Jong-un’s leadership, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have accelerated. Already in possession of nuclear bombs, the North Koreans have shifted its efforts to developing an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States. Recent testing suggests that the North Koreans have partially achieved that goal and have a missile capable of hitting Alaska, and are very close to developing the capability of hitting Los Angeles. Its next objective is developing a nuclear device small enough to be delivered by its missiles. Kim Jong-un’s bellicose rhetoric and aggressive foreign policy leaves no doubt that if and when they develop the capability of launching a nuclear device, the United States will be at risk.
President Trump has urged China, North Korea’s neighbor and closest ally, to use its influence to stop Kim Jong-un from developing and using a nuclear device. Up to now, those efforts have either not been taken, or have been rebuffed. Either one should be cause for great concern. Unlike America’s other adversaries, North Korea is led by an impetuous and inexperienced leader who has made it clear that he covets a nuclear device for the specific objective of threatening the United States. We should be prepared and willing to do whatever is necessary to prevent that from happening.