SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week, the United States and much of the world condemned continued nuclear testing and missile launches by North Korea. Later this hour we'll go to Anthony Kuhn in Seoul for the latest on that story. Of course this was also a week when President Obama nominated the first Latina for the Supreme Court. NPR's news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And let's certainly begin with North Korea. Yes, because of course much of the world expressed outrage and concern this week at a nuclear test and several tests of short-range missiles. The United Nations, many countries condemned the test. Remind us what's at stake here.
SCHORR: What's at stake. We have not witnessed a nuclear explosion in anger since 1945 over Japan, and the world has often wondered, as we found nuclear weapons going steadily into more and more hands, and not very responsible hands, when we would face a nuclear explosion again. Your best candidate for that right now is North Korea. It has - it apparently has six or seven nuclear weapons. It has delivery systems. It's been advertising both of these for reasons which are very difficult to understand. But you look at a country like North Korea and you say we are very close - we don't know how close, but we are very close to a nuclear abyss.
SIMON: Setting aside the possibility, which some military analysts dismiss for the moment that they might put a weapon on a rocket and point it somewhere, there are other dangers just in possessing the weapons, aren't there?
SCHORR: Yes. Probably the most immediate danger is what's called proliferation. Israel has already had the bomb. An installation in Syria which apparently had North Korean help in putting - giving them a nuclear weapon. We hardly, we know about Pakistan and India. There are things we don't know about. But as the thing spreads, it spreads to more and more countries. And so for the civilized world right now, the immediate thing is to prevent further proliferation, which may mean having to board and search ships at sea. North Korea says that would be an act of war, and when they say that would be an act of war, I guess you have to take notice.
SIMON: Yeah. And what effect, if any, does North Korea's nuclear program have now on questions about Iran's nuclear program?
SCHORR: Yeah, well, I'm not exactly sure about how close North Korea is to Iran, but every time you get another country going nuclear, you say, my God, it's going to invite one, two or three others, and so Iran seems to be a good customer there.
SIMON: Does the policy of extending the hand in friendship look a little naïve this week?
SCHORR: I don't know if it looks - if it's naïve, but it looks as though it's not getting very far in that part of the world right now.
SIMON: President Obama is preparing for a major trip to the Middle East next week. What can we expect?
SCHORR: Well, he's going to two countries. He's going to Cairo for what is being billed as a very important speech addressed to the Islamic world. And then he goes to Saudi Arabia, where he tries to get, first of all, some support from Saudi Arabia in trying to find a solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem, and secondly undoubtedly will be some mention of oil there, making sure that the oil flows. But the big thing seems to be, at least so the White House is saying, the Cairo speech is supposed to be very important.
SIMON: Of course this is occurring at a time when he just met this week with Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, following meetings the week before with Benjamin Netanyahu.
SCHORR: Yes. Well, having earlier met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and not apparently having gotten very far - each of them had told what was on his mind and they more or less agreed, and they don't quite agree on how soon you have to have a Palestinian state. Indeed, Netanyahu would not allow the word Palestinian state to cross his lips. But President Obama wanted to reassure Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, that we're going to push for it anyway. I mean, everyone is doing at this point what you expect them to do, what they really should be doing at this point, although you don't see at the end of this that anything is going to happen very soon.
SIMON: And of course U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor was nominated by President Obama to the United States Supreme Court. Like you, she grew up in the Bronx.
SCHORR: Like me she grew up in the Bronx, but got further than I did.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: You got pretty far. You got pretty far. Any doubt about her confirmation, barring the unforeseen?
SCHORR: Well, it's very hard to predict with this very funny Congress. It all depends on really what the Republicans decide is the best thing for them to do. If they decide to make a big deal of stopping or prolonging this whole confirmation, they may be in trouble with people where they're having trouble already, that is to say the Hispanic population and African-Americans. On the other hand, if they let the thing sail through, then they get the Rush Limbaughs and the other people who say you're giving in to the Democrats.
That being solved, I will venture, but only venture, to say that after they fuss about this for a long time and talk about this and that and the other thing and what did she say in 2001 and so on, in the end, I would say - and be ready to cut this out six months from now if it turns out otherwise - I venture to say it will be a little rocky along the way, but she should make it.
SIMON: Time will tell.
SCHORR: Time will tell. Hey, there's a phrase. Can I use that?
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: Yes! Borrow it, please. NPR's senior news analyst, Dan Schorr. Dan, thanks very much.
SCHORR: My pleasure.
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