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Amb. Nicholas Burns: United States Can't Accept a Nuclear North Korea

Amb. Nicholas Burns: United States Can't Accept a Nuclear North Korea
(AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 03 January 2018 09:50 AM

The United States can't say that it would accept a nuclear North Korea, but it has accepted other countries' nuclear capabilities in the past, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said Wednesday.

"We can't say we accept this, but the reality is, we have done it in other cases," Burns said during a panel discussion on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"Certainly, we accepted Pakistan."

For a long time, he continued, the United States said such nations were not officially nuclear states.

"The international law and the conventions regarding this issue are clear: only the [United Nations] Security Council members have the right to nuclear arms at this point," said Burns. "The others have to have safe and peaceful nuclear energy."

There may be some point in which North Korea's nuclear program could become accepted, the former ambassador added, but he doubts that will happen.

"The reality is, we have to strive for a Korean Peninsula that is non-nuclear," said Burns. "The South Korean government doesn't want nuclear weapons. They don't want U.S. weapons on their territory as they were in the past. Nobody wins. Frankly speaking, deterrence is sufficient."

Meanwhile, retired Admiral James Stavridis, now the dean at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said he does believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, for all his bombastic talk, knows what has happened to other authoritarian figures around the world and doesn't want to end up as they did.

He further thinks discussion can be held with Kim to tamp down North Korea's nuclear program.

"I think that the young leader likes his life," Stavridis said. "He is leading this kingdom, but having a hell of a time with a very nice lifestyle, and I think he wants that to continue."

However, he said, there won't be "an epiphany where we have a solution," and in the end, the United States will "have to live with a level of nuclear program on the part of the North [Koreans]."

"As a rational actor, he's watched what happened to other authoritarian figures, like [Muammar] Gaddafi, who had given up weapons of mass destruction, and he doesn't want to end up in that scenario," said Stavridis. "In that sense, he is rational. That leads us to some level of acceptance of nuclear weapons, unfortunately."

The panel also discussed the news that Chinese ships were spotted, through U.S. satellite photos, selling oil to North Korean vessels at sea, violating international sanctions.

However, Dr. Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia and now a national security analyst for NBC/MSNBC, commented that the news does not reveal much yet.

"The new sanctions they just put in place, they just voted in the U.N. Security Council, are going to clamp down further, 89 percent of the imports," Farkas said. "They haven't been enforced yet. They are brand new. We need to give them time. The key here is, we have never had this level of sanctions placed upon North Korea. If you give it time, they will have no other option but to talk to us."

She admitted that North Korea will want to talk with its nuclear capacity in place, but she does think sanctions, if given time, will work.

"There are a couple of reasons to take a deep breath and calm down," Farkas said. "The biggest one is the Olympics coming up in February. Nobody wants any kind of conflict before or certainly during the Olympics."

Stavridis said he has spoken and written about the idea of a maritime blockade, which would force China to comply with the sanctions. He also thinks the United States should sit down for negotiations with North Korea.

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The United States can't say that it would accept a nuclear North Korea, but it has accepted other countries' nuclear capabilities in the past, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said Wednesday.
nicholas burns, us, north korea, nuclear
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2018-50-03
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 09:50 AM
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