An expert on Asia-related political and security issues shared his personal story during a presentation on the “The North Korea Problem” at the Morning Forum of Los Altos Oct. 15.
Philip W. Yun, executive director and chief operating officer of the Ploughshares Fund and former Pantech Scholar in Korean Studies at the Walter Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, accompanied U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to Pyongyang, North Korea, in 1999 and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000 for high-level talks and negotiations on nuclear issues. Key concerns included the nuclear threat to the U.S. and what would happen to the nuclear weapons if North Korea collapsed.
The North Koreans last May launched a series of six missiles in the Sea of Japan. Today, North Korea has enough plutonium for four to eight nuclear bombs and is building a light water reactor.
“North Korea with a nuclear weapon is a clear threat to the U.S. and the region,” Yun said.
North Korea had already provoked South Korea by sinking the South Korean ship Cheonan and attacking South Korean forces on Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
According to Yun, the North Koreans could sell small missiles all over the world and had probably made arrangements with Syria to sell their technology.
Yun noted the humanitarian and food crises in North Korea, with 150,000 to 200,000 citizens sentenced to prison camps and 1 million deaths since the 1990s as a result of starvation. Yet despite the country’s ongoing problems, Yun said there is little chance of the government collapsing.
The Morning Forum of Los Altos is a members-only lecture series that meets at Los Altos United Methodist Church. For more information, visit morningforum.org.