Former Vice President Walter Mondale says he supports a pre-emptive U.S. strike against a North Korean missile that is raising nuclear fears around the globe.
Earlier this week North Korea announced it was preparing to test a missile that could reach United States mainland. Tensions rose further when the North Koreans put fuel into the missile, and continued to insist that a test firing was imminent.
Mondale said on WCCO-AM Friday that the United States should tell North Korea "defuel that missile. It has three boosters. Dismantle it and put it back in the sheds. Because if you’re getting ready to fire this, we’ll take it out."
Mondale, who's also a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, calls the North Korean missile "one of the most dangerous developments" in recent history.
"Nuclear weapons can destroy hundreds of millions of people in one strike — destroy major cities —it is the danger of our time," Mondale said. "Here’s this bizarre, hermit kingdom up there, with a paranoid leader getting ready to test a missile system that can hit us. We’ve got to stop it."
The tensions are over North Korea's apparent preparations to test-fire a Taepodong-2 missile, and the possibility that the missile could eventually carry a nuclear warhead.
Analysts do not agree on how far the missile can travel —Jane's Defense, for example, said last year that the Taepodong-2's maximum range was probably about 3,700 miles. A Russian report said it was about 5,600 miles, and an American report suggested 6,200 miles. Other reports have quoted U.S. officials as saying the 116-foot-long missile has a firing range of 9,300 miles.
Despite the confusion, Mondale and other former top Democrats are convinced apparently that action is the key to ending the standoff.
"This is such a legitimate thing for the United States to do," Mondale said. "The nature of the threat is so serious that I think we should knock it out right there if they won’t stop."
President Clinton's defense secretary, William Perry, advocated such a pre-emptive strike in The Washington Post. Current National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley brushed aside Perry's suggestion, saying he hoped that North Korea would see the unanimously negative reaction from the international community to the test and return to the negotiating table.
(Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)