Dealing With North Korea

FP: Are you concerned about North Korea’s nuclear program?

JP: Yes. [1] Right now North Korea is the country that poses the biggest threat to us. [2] It’s very important. [3]

FP: Do you think that seeing the United States overthrow Saddam Hussein has given the North Koreans pause?

JP: No, it probably made them more motivated than ever to build nukes. [4]

FP: What do you think about some limited use of military force, such as bombing their nuclear power plants?

JP: I don’t think so. Besides, I’m not sure we have the right to do that kind of thing. [5]

FP: What about overthrowing their government?

JP: Definitely not. [6]

FP: What do you think about how the United States has been approaching North Korea?

JP: We should take a more diplomatic approach, rather than trying to intimidate them by implying we might attack.[7] [8] I mean, isn’t their fear that we would attack what got them all riled up in the first place?

FP: Are you saying that the Bush administration is not doing all that it can to achieve a diplomatic resolution?

JP: Maybe it could be doing more. [9]

FP: Some people say that would just be trying to revive the 1994 agreement. Even though North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear weapons program and let in inspectors in exchange for aid, this has clearly failed.

JP: (Shrugs) I still think we need to try to get it back on track. [10] We don’t really have the option of going to war, so what are you going to do? [11]

FP: But it was North Korea that violated the agreement by restarting its nuclear weapons program. Some people argue that talking with North Korea would be the same as submitting to blackmail.

JP: I don’t find that argument convincing. I just think that communication holds out the best hope. [12]

FP: What if that doesn’t work?

JP: Well, maybe then we should take some steps in a military direction …I’m not sure. But if the South Koreans don’t want us to do that, then I’m not prepared to just plow ahead.[13] After all, they are the ones that would get the brunt of any war.

FP: But if the United States were to attack North Korea, would you be supportive then?

JP: Well, like I said before, I generally feel that you should back the commander in chief even when, if you were to ask me what to do, I would say “let’s not.” But if it was part of a UN operation, then I would strongly support that. [14]

FP: Would you support establishing diplomatic relations with North Korea?

JP: Of course. Haven’t we already done that? [15]

FP: Would you support a deal in which the US makes a formal declaration that it will not attack North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons program?

JP: Sure. Why not? [16]

FP: Do you think that would keep the North Koreans from pursuing nuclear weapons?

JP: I don’t know. [17] But why not try it?

FP: What about withholding food aid so as to put more pressure on them?

JP: No, I don’t think that when there are starving North Koreans we should use food aid as a political weapon. It’s not their fault what their government is doing. [18]

FP: What about providing aid in exchange for North Korea stopping its nuclear weapons program?

JP: I would support that. [19] I think there is a good chance that the real reason they are doing this is to get aid. [20]

FP: Does that mean you are confident that giving aid will stop them?

JP: No, not really. [21]

FP: How confident are you that this aid really reaches the people who need it?

JP: Not very confident. [22] But I still think we should do it.