North Korea Nukes Not an Imminent Threat?
National Security Advisor Jim Jones declared in a speech to the Atlantic Council that the recent testing of a nuclear device and firing of Taepodong missiles by North Korea “are not an imminent threat” to the United States or the regions because “they have a long way to go” in perfecting the technology to weaponize their nukes. He added, however that “The imminent threat is the proliferation of that type of technology to other countries and potentially terrorist organizations and non-state actors.”
North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests are hardly good news, but they don’t justify going into full panic mode. We already knew that North Korea had a nuclear weapons capability, and though this latest test seems to have been slightly more powerful than the initial one, it doesn’t imply a qualitative shift in the strategic environment. North Korea’s defiance is annoying, perhaps, but it’s not like the act of testing a nuclear weapon tells us something new about their regime. And let’s not forget that the United States has tested a nuclear weapons 1030 times (plus another 24 joint tests with Great Britain), while Pyongyang has tested exactly twice.
In my New Atlanticist piece, “Jones: North Korea Nukes ‘Not an Imminent Threat’,” I defend the Walt-Jones position.
Look, it’s frustrating to watch rogue regimes developing nuclear weapons. After railing about an Axis of Evil and pledging repeatedly that “We have to have policies that prevent the world’s most dangerous people from having the world’s most dangerous weapons,” the Bush administration left office with the 2/3 of said Axis not under American occupation either possessing or in the final stages of developing nuclear weapons. Indeed, Bush proclaimed Kim’s regime “evil” in late 2002, it was well on its way to a nuclear device by early 2003, and it successful tested its first one in late 2006. It wasn’t because Bush’s team was insufficiently tough, dedicated, or competent but because being The World’s Sole Remaining SuperpowerTM comes with much less control than people think.
Much more at the link.