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N. Korea will likely be Trump's 9/11: Victor Cha

All Headlines 05:29 December 02, 2016

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will likely be the biggest crisis for next U.S. President Donald Trump, and is expected to challenge the incoming administration almost immediately upon his inauguration, a top American expert said Thursday.

"Every presidency is defined only partially by the issues that they campaigned on and the agenda they had coming into office. More often than not, however, we measure the mettle of presidencies by unexpected crises that they must deal with. For President Bush, this was clearly the terrorist attacks of 9/11," Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

"For President-elect Trump, this crisis could very well come from North Korea," he said during a CSIS discussion.

The communist regime under leader Kim Jong-un has taken an unusually violent path, undertaking 25 ballistic missile tests and two nuclear tests in the past year alone, Cha said. Since 2009, it has done 65 major provocations and ballistic missile tests, including four nuclear tests, compared with only 16 missile tests and one nuclear test in 15 years prior, he said.

"North Korea will challenge the new administration almost immediately upon taking office. This would be for the purpose of establishing a position of strength," Cha said.

Pyongyang has a history of challenging a new U.S. president in what is believed to be an attempt to "tame" a new government. After President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in April and its second nuclear test in May.

Cha criticized Obama's "strategic patience" policy of refusing to hold negotiations and increasing sanctions until the North shows good faith, saying the policy has done little to curb the threat.

"Over the past year, North Korea has crossed technical thresholds that were previously thought to be beyond their reach for years. They may have scores of nuclear weapons by the end of this decade, only four years away," Cha said.

"It is entirely plausible that during President Trump's four years in office North Korea will demonstrate an ability to reach the West Coast of the United States with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile," he said.

North Korea has so far conducted five nuclear tests and a series of long-range missile launches, including two nuclear tests and one long-range rocket launch this year alone. Pyongyang has claimed it has mastered nuclear warhead miniaturization technology.

Analysts have warned that it is only a matter of time until the North develops nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the continental U.S. Some experts have warned that the communist nation's nuclear arsenal could expand to as many as 100 bombs by 2020.

The six-party talks aimed at resolving the North Korean standoff have been stalled since late 2008.

N. Korea will likely be Trump's 9/11: Victor Cha - 1

jschang@yna.co.kr
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