The Paradox of Proliferation

Why Nukes Are of No Real Use to North Korea

No one was surprised when North Korea’s new supreme leader threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States—it’s hardly news when North Korea rattles its saber—but Kim Jong-un’s belligerent rhetoric goes further than his predecessor’s. He remains an unknown, unpredictable figure. Perhaps he’s acting out of youthful inexperience, or maybe he believes he must demonstrate “credibility” to the Pyongyang military and to the government he leads. Whatever the case, he has been...

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About the Author

William Pfaff, a former editor of Commonweal, is political columnist for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His most recent book is The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy (Walker & Company).