Defining Nuclear ‘Significance’

Kerry says U.S. won't tolerate North Korean nukes, 20 years too late

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REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst

Secretary of State John Kerry warns (yawns) North Korea Tuesday that it won't tolerate its nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry sounded pretty blunt at the State Department Tuesday afternoon:

We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state, nor as a nuclear-armed state, nor will the international community abide by that.

Reminded me of a story I wrote 20 years ago, when it first became evident that Pyongyang was not only developing nuclear weapons, but that it most likely had at least one, and maybe two, back in early 1994.

“Our policy right along,” Defense Secretary William Perry told me in his flying stateroom over the Atlantic, “has been oriented to try to keep North Korea from getting a significant nuclear-weapon capability.”

Not sure how many A-bombs one needs to clear the “significant” bar. But two decades sounds pretty significant.