HARRY SMITH, co-host: There seems to be a deal to put North Korea’s nuclear program on hold. At six-nation talks in China, the North Korean government promised to shut down its main nuclear reactor and allow nuclear inspections in exchange for fuel oil and promises of direct talks with the United States and Japan. Critics argue that it’s not exactly a breakthrough. Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an EARLY SHOW consultant.
Good morning, Michael.
Mr. MICHAEL O’HANLON (Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution): Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: We just heard Barry Petersen’s story a couple minutes ago where the North Korean–North Korean media seems to be backing away from maybe the most important part of this deal–excuse me, Howie Mandel, but is there a deal or no deal?
Mr. O’HANLON: I can’t tell either, Harry. Certainly, if you took the North Korean news agency literally, you’d be worried because they said it was a temporary suspension, when the deal makes it very clear the nuclear reactor has to be dismantled. But, of course, North Korea sometimes feeds its own people propaganda, to put it mildly.
Mr. O’HANLON: And I think we have to be hopeful here that there is at least a capping of the North Korean program. As you know, this does not roll back the 10 or so nuclear weapons North Korea may already have, most of which were built in the last five years.
[The potential blowback of a strike on North Korea presents] a situation you’re kind of stuck with because there doesn’t seem to be an easy way, with any degree of confidence, that you could presume to take out all the nuclear weapons, wherever they are located, take out all of their capacity to inflict damage on South Korea. You realize just how risky this strategy is.