Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on Wednesday that North Korea’s latest threat to attack the United States should be taken seriously but that “we should not overreact.”
“We have to take them seriously,” Albright told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “They have this pattern of making threats — and they go through this cycle.
“They think they’re going to get something out of it — and the U.S. is not going to give in.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Pentagon said that it was sending an advanced ballistic missile defense system to Guam after Pyongyang announced that it had “ratified” a merciless attack against the United States, potentially involving a “diversified nuclear strike.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cited a “real and clear” danger from North Korea in announcing the move, saying that Pyongyang had singled out U.S. military bases in Guam and Hawaii as potential targets.
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“Some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger, Hagel said at the National Defense University in Washington.
Albright, 75, who served under President Bill Clinton and is now a professor at Georgetown University, commended both Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry for their unwavering stance toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and their unflinching support for the South.
“We have to be careful to not bite on their excessive actions,” she told Blitzer.
When the CNN host asked whether Kim was bluffing, she responded, “That’s been their record.
“Some of this is because Kim Jong Un, the new leader, is trying to gain control and make clear to his own people that he’s in charge, especially the military,” she added. “He also is somebody who I think is playing this provocative game.
“But at the same time, it fits into a pattern that they have done for a long time.”
Albright cited, for example, when Pyongyang threatened to pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty in 1993 when she was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The country had demanded U.S. diplomatic recognition, along with grain, oil and other conditions.
North Korea did not win the United States’ vote on the U.N. Security Council, Albright said.
She described the speech by Pyongyang officials as “cold-war rhetoric” to Blitzer. “They have been doing this kind of thing for years.”
But Albright — who met with Kim’s father, Kim Jong-Il, in 2000 — added that China needed to take a more active role in diffusing the situation because of its ties to Pyongyang.
“They are the ones that are the closest to the North Koreans,” she said. “They supply them with a lot of energy — and we believe that they’ll have much more leverage on them.”
President Barack Obama also is correct in not agreeing to meet with the younger Kim. “One does not do it under these kinds of threats,” Albright said.
“The North Koreans know what they have to do: They have to abide by these agreements that they have made,” she told CNN. “We want a de-nuclearized Korean peninsula — and, once they abide by all the agreements, then we have a way we can talk to them.”
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