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Trying to make sense of North Korea’s belligerence

March 8th, 2013
11:18 AM ET

By Juliet Fuisz & Samuel Burke, CNN

If anyone thought last week's visit to North Korea by basketball star Dennis Rodman might have tempered Kim Jong-un's actions, Thursday’s broadside against the United States put an end to that notion.

The reclusive country threatened its enemies with the possibility of, "a preemptive nuclear attack." Even by North Korea’s bombastic standards, this was incredibly provocative.

Last month, Pyongyang had threatened to pull out of the armistice with the U.S. and South Korea that ended the Korean War back in 1953.

The international community reacted to this and especially to the North's third nuclear test last month, as it always does, with yet another round of apparently crippling sanctions. Though, this time Pyongyang's closest ally, China, is on board. But will it enforce them? And has China finally tired of its wayward ally?

In the video above CNN’s Christiane Amanpour puts those questions to Ambassador Christopher Hill, the former U.S. envoy to Seoul and the designated U.S. envoy to the North's nuclear file.

“They haven't been able to take a nuclear device and put it on a missile that we're aware of,” Hill told Amanpour. “There's no sign that they have any kind of deliverable nuclear device. So I would take this in the category of bombast.”

READ MORE: What do North Koreans think of nuclear tests?

Filed under:  Latest Episode • North Korea
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. rosspoetvassilev

    America has nuclear weapons, why shouldn't North Korea?

    March 8, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
    • Swiss

      I like rosspoetvassilev's idea. We should all follow America's standards and just give nukes to everyone. It'll make the world that much safer.

      March 8, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • Oliver Closoff

      because the Korean's are unstable, and no one who has any, so far has treatened anyone else.

      March 8, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
      • Matt

        That is not quite true. For example, the United States has threatened multiple nations on several occasions – including the option of a nuclear strike. Please remember the "nuclear posture review" of 2002 which named several countries (including North Korea) as a possible target of a nuclear pre-emptive strike. This report was among the official reasons why North Korea started the nuclear program to begin with: a real and realistic threat by a nuclear superpower which was just about to launch its illegal war of aggression in Iraq.

        March 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • African

        but for America who has used them

        March 10, 2013 at 3:13 am |
    • Nope

      If you really don't see any difference between the US and N Korea, you've got a real problem.

      March 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • ascpgh

      Fascinating: a liberal perspective of equity among nations and arms yet within our own country they apply a different rule by which everyone is discriminated enough to produce dis equity satisfactory to their own measure.

      Virulent spread of "fairness". Nothing's fair, you have to make what you want from what's available and shoot anyone who wants to take it away.

      March 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
      • Russell Thayer

        The word 'virulent' is typically only used in the medical context, as it pertains to the efficacy of a virus or pathogen.

        March 9, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • dongsoola

      where is my response?

      March 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • dongsoola

      America not only have nuclear weapons.

      March 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
    • dongsoola

      Its the US who is invader/aggressor/ massacerer.

      March 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  2. frothquaffer

    The North Koreans do not need a missile. All they need is a truck, drive it to the center of Seoul and boom.

    March 8, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
  3. Trevor

    China Trading off support for American Sanctions of N.Korea, So when China decides to claims the Islands, America looks the other way?

    March 8, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Liz Rector

      Or send some guys to flight school and tell the school they won't need landing instruction. Damn! Didn't Bush brief Obama about those so-called "lessons learned" from September 11, 2001? Or is the Obama administration so complacent they think they have everything under control?

      See: Failure of imagination.

      March 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  4. Blah

    I can answer that w/o calling in Dr. Phil. They felt cornered and threatened. Just like a bank heist went wrong and they threatened killing all the hostages. Pretty much like "U wanna F with me?!" kind of mentality.

    P.s. agree with above comments totally.

    March 8, 2013 at 11:59 am | Reply
  5. Tim

    Three words. Star wars platform.

    March 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
    • Blah

      True Dat.

      March 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  6. Harry Kuheim

    It makes perfect Orwellian sense for a Dictator like Kim Jong-Un or Obama to keep the unwashed masses in fear of or afraid of the "Bogeyman" be it Imperial US Capitalists or the 1% who refuse to pay their fair share.

    March 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  7. AdamVW

    He would be better served strapping a nuclear device to his barber. One day he will look in the mirror and there will be hell to pay!

    March 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • Nope

      Mirrors are counter-revolutionary.

      March 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  8. Gill Bates

    "Trying to make sense of North Korea’s belligerence" ??

    Simple, they modeled themselves after the US Republican party,

    March 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Reply
    • Liz Rector

      I'm a Democrat, and to you I say, please knock off the slams on the Republican party. The Democratic party has shown few qualms about being belligerent, e.g., Viet Nam (JFK's foolhardiness, dumped on LBJ, dumped on RMN), the attemped Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis showdown. Belligerence is the exclusive property of political party.

      March 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Reply
      • Liz Rector

        I meant to write that belligerence is not the exclusive property....

        March 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  9. bujinin

    Not hard to explain at all. It's called the "Mad Man" theory, and has ample precedent in U.S. policy during the Nixon years:

    Madman theory
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The madman theory was the centerpiece of Richard Nixon's foreign policy
    The madman theory was a primary characteristic of the foreign policy conducted by U.S. President Richard Nixon. His administration, the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from 1969 to 1974, attempted to make the leaders of other countries think Nixon was mad, and that his behavior was irrational and volatile. Fearing an unpredictable American response, leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations would avoid provoking the United States.

    March 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  10. Buddy Pittman

    I do not think North Korea really wants a nuclear war but if the us and china keep trying to Bully them with santions they may start one just to prove a point. if we cut them off from everything what will they have to loose?im sure they would love to go down in history as the country who started the great nuclear world war because that is what it would end up being .

    March 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  11. AleR

    Don't be naive. Nobody give up their power because their people are hungry. But we can spoil them with cheap stuff they all need. Or even gifts to everybody. Then they change their government themselves.

    March 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  12. Michael Miles

    This action is false. USA is making this up for reason we know. They are setting up a false flag event to destroy N. Korea.
    Do you really think this makes any sense at all.
    Believe me N. Korea is not going to attack anything. It's the USA getting rid of a single country that they know will not play ball with the NWO. That why Chavez was just killed off. Now we will see a USA friendly in charge of that country

    March 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  13. Liz Rector

    You don't hear Kim Jon-un threatening China. May he "live in interesting times."

    March 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  14. Liz Rector

    Further, why would KJU's behavior have been tempered? You might could think U.S. response to that visit would temper that behavior, but you would be wrong. Kim Jong-un is probably a sociopath. Good reason not to try to reason with him, and a better reason to take his threats seriously.

    March 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  15. Oscar Pitchfork

    They are and always have been a desperately xenophobic little backwater of a third (or possibly fourth) world country. They live a mix of a stone-age existence with an occaisional 21st century techno thrown in. The succession of Tyrant/God/King/H.N.I.C. over the years have only cemented the Dynasty of the have-everythings vs the haven't anythings to the point where the populace is going too have to get tired of eating each other (literally!) and start to wonder what the guy with all the money's liver tastes like.

    March 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  16. mlg4035

    My opinion is that conditions in North Korea have gotten so bad that it threatens to cause a peasant revolution. Historically NK has used outward belligerence to mask internal strife, and I think that's the case here. If the sanctions manage to cut off the flow of luxuries like steak, expensive jewelry, Hennessy, cigars, etc. to the elite(the only real reasons to live that they have) then I think Jong Un's days are numbered, and correspondingly, he's ramping up the war mongering rhetoric to maintain what little order is left in that country: the threat of violence from "outside" is a powerful unifier...

    March 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  17. mansfuture

    Too many generations of rhetoric, now they all believe it.

    March 9, 2013 at 2:09 am | Reply
    • Jason

      That is so funny. I guess that phrase applies to the people in the United States as well.

      March 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  18. elijah

    Why doesn't the international community turn against the USA? It is the one that creates instability in the world. They attacked Iraq claiming nuclear. It is just a plan for the stupid Americans to fight North Korea. The USA possesses a lot of nuclear power. What's so special about them. Go to hell America! Let other countries have what you have.

    March 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  19. Oliver Holz

    Every time DPRK has threatened their neighbors in the past, they have gotten paid.
    Why on Earth would they stop now?

    March 11, 2013 at 6:28 am | Reply
  20. Onno Legare

    People who learn from an early immature age that they can get something or their way thru belligerence/violence/intimidation can grow into real heartbreakers, worsened by the fact that most fail to apply their minds fully in a sound manner. There are individuals who will go to great extent to get other peoples attention/ or who live off other Peoples energies and can be greatly offended if People deny them those attentions. If the devil rules your thinking and you are unaware of it and you are in a position of power, it becomes an unspeakble tragedy especially if you are murderous leader. And mind you the devil does use us, a vast majority of us i think. Thats why Leaders should be loving, and adhere to leading us by wisdom seen in Solomon, Moshoeshoe(Basotho King who defeated the British at Thaba Bosiou and offered peace), Mandela, etc

    March 12, 2013 at 4:21 am | Reply
  21. quantumelf

    Can they specifically target Dennis Rodman?

    March 12, 2013 at 11:39 am | Reply
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