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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) is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive and serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. 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. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.