North Korea: Bluffing with Nukes

North Korea has admitted it has nuclear weapons, so now the world knows what it is facing – or does it? Not even Washington agrees on the facts, so is Pyongyang playing a weak hand rather well?

The World Today
Published 1 April 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

David Wall

Associate Fellow, International Economics Programme, Chatham House

United States’ President George Bush must be a confused man. his advisors and favourite think-tanks have been telling him for a couple for years that North Korea has nuclear weapons.

Then, on February 10, the North Koreans themselves announced that, yes, they do have such weapons. However, what is confusing is that in response, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld told him, and the world, that he does not, and never has believed, the North has such weapons. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, contributed to the confusion, saying she thinks they have some nuclear bombs, she just was not sure how many.

So, I find myself in agreement with the arch neo-conservative Rumsfeld and the conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Howard says that Pyongyang’s claim to have nuclear weapons is a bluff on the part of the North Korean leadership. Why would they bluff?

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