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How to contain Kim Jong Un

April 8th, 2013
05:45 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

A nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula could make the Chernobyl nuclear accident look like a “child's fairy tale” – that was the warming that came on Monday from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After weeks of nuclear threats from North Korea, there is no evidence that North Korea is planning an imminent nuclear test.

But South Korea and the United States both say they would not be surprised if the North launched a missile later this week.

Whether that would be a hostile act or a test is anybody's guess. That’s the problem; very little is known about the new North Korean leadership and Kim Jong Un's intentions.

Gary Samore was President Obama's top nuclear adviser up until January. He also played a key role in the Clinton administration’s negotiation of an agreement to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

“The North Koreans may very well launch another missile or conduct another missile test,” Samore told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “But I think most of their threats to take military action are probably just theatrics – designed to intimidate and frighten people.”

In other words, Samore believes the North Korean will do something, but more likely it will be some type of test. He said that has certainly been the pattern in the past.

Samore believes that South Korea and/or the United States have to send North Korea’s young leader a “warning message” for him to know he must not go too far, but send this message without provoking him. At the same time, Samore said the North Koreans must be careful not to alienate China, their ally, which sends essentials supplies across the border.

In the video above you can see Amanpour’s entire interview with Samore.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • North Korea
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. doabitofhomework

    I've heard many times nations whose leaders have made hateful, even threatening statements (Ahmadinejad's "wipe Israel off the map" comments, for example), but never in my life have I encountered a nation having hysterics, conniptions, and mega hissy-fits.

    The joint manufacturing complex helps the North, probably even more than the South, yet they want to terminate it entirely, bullying their way to do it, because the complex is on their soil. Well, don't they know that the South can simply build another one – on their own soil – and let the North participate (or not) as it will. But they won't be able to close this one down, will they?

    I wonder what's to become of the manufacturing equipment and other facilities owned by Southern enterprises. I suppose the North will just steal them, and the companies that own them will suffer a big financial loss.

    So much for EVER trusting North Korea again.

    They're doing things that will have direct harmful effects on their own people, which is rather abysmally stupid. Sooner or later, those people WILL rise up against their government. People DO need to eat, after all, and Mr. Un doesn't seem to care if they do or not.

    An internal revolution is truly the best way for N. Korea to be dealt with. Those people are learning – gradually – that there are people in those hated parts of the world who live vastly better than they do. They may wonder if the hate is justified, or just a way to keep them satisfied with semi-starvation.

    I'm sure there already are people in N. Korea making sure the people DO learn how bad-off they are, and it shouldn't be hard to do it. Let's hope to see some serious signs of VERY serious unrest soon.

    Failing a revolution, it is China's responsibility to deal with this rogue ally of theirs. They're running amok, and are now a liability to China. A big one. If war breaks out, it'll be worse if China joins it on N. Korea's side. But China will never live down the infamy of it.

    BTW, those who think a missile is the only way to deliver a nuke are wrong. A boat can be used, and the nuke placed as near offshore of their enemy as possible. Nukes do rather widespread damage, you know. I doubt that N. Korea is incapable of coming up with an idea like that. So I don't discount them as a nuclear threat simply because they don't have any ICBMs yet.

    We can't be sure whether the saber-rattling is coming from Un himself, or from his military, through him. If the latter, it could be that Un is fearful of his own military.

    Whatever it is, wherever it's originating from, it's still abysmally stupid.

    People are now fearing that a war could be started by accident. True enough. But there's also the possibility that Un knows what "the boy who cried wolf" was all about, and knows he can't keep up the threats without, at long last, having to ACT on one or more of them.

    In the Oriental cultures, "saving face" is of prime importance. When Kerry says N. Korea will need an "off-ramp," that's what he's referring to.

    But the "face" of N. Korea cannot be changed, unless all the people holding any form of power (governmental or military) have been removed and changed out. THEIR "face" is already too tarnished to be saved. They probably know it, too.

    Which is bad, I'm thinking.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • Trevor

      I have lived twice as long as the Theatrics from North Korea have been going on. It started with Kim Jong Il, but may well end with Kim Jong Un. Better sooner than later...for all.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Reply
      • Kerry

        No one wants to see war but if Kim Jr. starts it then America will finish it. Are they stupid enough not to know this or even care? Time will tell but many would like to see the NK leaders gone. He will look like a total goofball if he backs down now. But maybe they didn't think it out and are just basking in the attention for as long as they can. Poor Kim Jr. and his illusion of grandeur. Maybe in the next life.

        April 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Rednosty

      If a Nuclear war took place Most people are stupidly thinking its not going affect them. Erm the worlds economy is already in a mess a Nuclear war in that area will send Markets tumbling and chaos will ensue.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Doug Norton

      You mentioned the elephant in the room–that North Korea, or any other possessor of nukes does not need a missile to get one here. Good for you! Almost all reporting and other commentary ignores that. But a few of us realize that Kim may be delusional enough let the Armageddon genie (nuclear terrorism) out of the bottle. See Harvard's Graham Allison 2/12/13 Op-Ed in NYT and his book Nuclear Terrorism, the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. And for a fictional take on what it costs America, its president and the world to put the Armageddon genie back in the bottle, check out my new novel, Code Word: Paternity. The current behavior of North Korea's leaders leads into that plot like a car accelerating along a highway on-ramp.

      April 13, 2013 at 7:03 am | Reply

    Go Obama, make those chinks taste some of your Freedom!!

    April 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • K


      April 8, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  3. Lolo

    North Korea is "The Mouse That ROARED. Ha Ha

    April 9, 2013 at 5:50 am | Reply
  4. gvilardi

    geth rid of the tiren and a bit of collateral demage and we have peace till the next hitler comes and if we dont react, we will have a peralhabor again and again, dont we ewer learn from history?

    April 9, 2013 at 9:49 am | Reply
  5. eddie2003

    send the little boy back to school. He thinks the real world is his playground and his country is made of up of toy soldiers. Dangerous brat.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:49 am | Reply
  6. Leslie

    Junior suffers from what I call a "slay the father" problem. Little boys expect and are expected to surpass their fathers achievements. The sons of sucessful men have a very high hurdle indead and if placed in a position of power (witness Jr. Bush) they wield that power with less thought to outcomes than putting dad in his place. Junior Kim is doing just that, 'slaying the father" and demonstrating his masculinity and prowess as a man/leader.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  7. Coco

    The truth is China stands behind this guy and provokes him to do whatever China wants.

    April 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  8. jimmy lim

    Call his bluff and let him play out his hand at this poker game once n for all. Either way he is finished

    April 10, 2013 at 12:44 am | Reply
  9. Cont Ainer

    How to contain Kim Jong Un? Just put him in a container. That's what containers are for.

    April 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
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