Re "Will North Korea play by the nuclear club's rules?" Opinion, Oct. 10
Jon B. Wolfsthal's suggestions are largely cogent and sensible, but saying that we might have a nuclear response to any missile test is the sort of thing that Kim Jong Il routinely challenges or ignores. What we need to say is that we will respond to any missile fired outside of North Korea's borders as a nuclear threat, whether announced as a test or not, whether over friendly territory or not, and respond accordingly, leaving the nature of the response open. That could range from shooting the missile down (if possible) to attacking the launch site even before the missile's nature and range were known.
Wolfsthal's Op-Ed article is a good example of the old, tired thinking about dealing with North Korea. An examination of the steps leading to Pyongyang's detonating a nuclear device will show America's intractability in dealing with what President Bush has named an "axis of evil." As rhetoric, it has pleased the hawks, but it simply shows how little Bush and his team understand North Korea.
To defuse tensions on a divided Korean peninsula -- and with Pyongyang's entrance into the nuclear club, which is having an unsettling effect among its neighbors -- it is time to talk with Kim Jong Il, not isolate him more, as Wolfsthal suggests.