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Michèle Flournoy on North Korea’s Nukes: Now a “Risk Management” Problem?

If you are a reader of this publication you know quite well I have given up on any hopes of North Korea agreeing to CVID, FFID or any other silly acronym that alludes to them becoming a non-nuclear weapons state.

It seems others, even more hawkish elements in the Democratic Party, are also quietly coming around to the idea.

In a webinar-style video interview for Defense News (link here, sorry, they don’t allow embedding), Michelle Flournoy,  former undersecretary of defense for policy gave a detailed talk on the future of U.S. defense policy along with some sharp criticism of the current Trump Administration on China strategy.

However, her comments on North Korea are pretty fascinating–considering she could very well be Joe Biden’s Secretary of Defense.

Go to  40:14 in the interview. She calls North Korea’s nuclear weapons program a “really hard problem” and that “from a disarmament perspective…hard to see this leader and this regime completely accepting nuclear disarmament.”

I would say that is a big deal. Combine that with Susan Rice’s op-ed from back in 2017 that “[H]istory shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War” and we might be witnessing a shift in what is normally a more hawkish stance on the DPRK. Considering Rice would also be in line for a senior Biden Administration position, we could be in for some surprises on North Korea should we have a change in government come November 3rd.

Image: Creative Commons. 


Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C., a Washington D.C.-based think tank founded by President Richard Nixon in 1994. Kazianis in the past served as Editor-In-Chief of the Diplomat and as a national security-focused fellow at CSIS, the Potomac Foundation, and the University of Nottingham (UK). His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum.

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