DANIEL SCHORR: Former President Bill Clinton made an interesting point about a nuclear standoff with North Korea in a speech at Georgetown University the other day.
LIANE HANSEN, host:
NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: He said that the Bush administration itself is seeking funding for two new nuclear weapons, and that has weakened the American position. North Korea has good historic reason to worry about American nuclear weapons. In 1950, during the Korean War, when things were going badly for the allied side, President Truman was asked at a news conference whether he would use the atomic bomb against North Korea. This mind you, was only five years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and something that would send shutters through any country that might be a target of the dreadful weapon.
Truman's response, leaving the possibility open, was to say that to defeat North Korea we would use every weapon we have. In 1953, President Eisenhower made a similarly ambiguous threat. He said that unless North Korea negotiated in good faith for an end to the war, he would remove all restraints on the American use of weapons. On top of that, in 1957, the U.S. Army deployed tactical nuclear artillery along the demarcation line, later removed by President Carter.
What would you think if you were North Korea's dictator Kim Il Sung, or his son and the current dictator, Kim Jong Il? Newsweek summed it up in a recent cover story with the blazing headline, For 50 Years North Korea Plotted to Go Nuclear, Now Kim Jong Il Says It Has.
When Beijing some time ago urged North Korea to cancel a planned missile test, Kim Jong Il is said to have replied, But we are not boys. We are a nuclear power. So Kim must take some pride in having completed what his father started and joined the select nuclear club. He must also derive some satisfaction from the fact that President Bush no longer calls him a member of the evil empire.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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