Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry recommended gradual negotiations to deal with North Korea's nuclear threats, insisting the isolated country is "rational enough" not to launch a nuclear attack on South Korea, Japan or the United States.
Perry, an expert in US foreign policy, national security and arms control who served as defense chief under ex-president Bill Clinton, suggested talks with Pyongyang should be based on the assumption that it has already been armed with atomic bombs.
"I still believe the agreements we negotiated would give us a very different and certain stable world than we have today," he said Monday in a speech at Seoul's Yonsei University.
"North Korea has no plans to use the nuclear weapons to attack South Korea, Japan or the US," Perry said, calling for a "step by step" reduction of danger through dialogue and diplomacy.
A series of North Korean nuclear and missile tests this year triggered tough international sanctions. Pyongyang claimed in early September to have conducted a nuclear warhead explosion test aimed at acquiring technology for the production of diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads to be carried by strategic missiles.
But Perry, currently an emeritus professor at Stanford University, opposed any military attacks, saying Pyongyang is now capable of delivering nuclear weapons on trucks, ships, and airplanes.
"Attacks are not effective as we don't know where the weapons are," he said. "They have the ability to deliver the nuclear weapons on trucks, ships and airplanes. We have to start on that thought."
North Korea is not suicidal but rational, he said, adding that the international community should clearly understand what Pyongyang wants to do. "They are rational enough not to use them on South Korea or Japan, but they might sell them or accidental explosion is what we should be worried about."
Perry said North Korea's primary goal is to sustain the dynastic rule by the Kim family.
"I would strongly recommend against it (military attacks). It would only bring a catastrophic outcome. The damage they might be able to do before defeated," he said.
Aju News Lim Chang-won and Park Sae-jin
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