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Victor Cha on the U.S. Response to North Korea’s Nuclear Provocations

Article by Ashley McConkey January 13, 2016 //   3 minute read

On January 13th, the House Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific convened a hearing to discuss the recent reports of North Korea testing a hydrogen bomb.  While many news outlets have disputed the claims, analysts warn against underestimating North Korea's nuclear program.  

Bush Institute Fellow Victor Cha testified that "...Kim Jong-un believes that a bigger and more modern nuclear arsenal purchases him more security by deterring others from attacking him despite anything he might do. That belief is deadly wrong, dangerous, and could cost many lives. Successes and improvements in the nuclear and the missile program in the past few years, moreover, may have inflated that self-belief, to a point where a miscalculation, potentially in the form of “grey zone” coercive military action at lower levels of escalation like the sinking of a South Korean or U.S. ship to extort food or benefits, can lead to retaliation. The most worrying thing about North Korea today is not that it did a fourth nuclear test last week, but that it does not recognize the limitations and risks the nuclear program poses."

Dr. Cha concluded his remarks by referencing the report he authored in colloaboration with the Bush Institute in 2015, Light Through the Darkness: "As I have argued before, the U.S. and South Korea should create a comprehensive strategy for breaking down North Korea’s information barriers to reach a population with an insatiable thirst for news about the outside world." 

To view the rest of Dr. Cha's testimony, click here.  His remarks begin roughly around the 30-minute mark.  

As a Fellow in Human Freedom, Victor Cha is helping lead an initiative on the problem of human rights in North Korea. In addition, he is a senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and Director of Asian studies and holder of the D.S. Song-KF Chair in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.