Nuclear North Korea is When, Not If

Adm. Harry Harris told Congress Thursday that Kim Jong Un’s driving ambition is to develop “a nuclear capability against the United States.” He admitted “there is some doubt … within the intelligence community whether he has that capability today or whether he will soon have it.” But he assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea’s achievement of the goal “is clearly a matter of when.” Harris said that, in his estimation, Kim Jong Un “is not a leader who is afraid to fail in public,” and he compared him to Thomas Edison, an early innovator of the light bulb, saying the North Korean leader is “going to continue to try until he gets it right.” Nonetheless, Harris advocated sticking with the sanctions strategy that has defined the US response to North Korean provocations for years. “There are some areas in the sanctions regime that we have not yet explored,” he said, “and I think we should do those before we move to the kinetics.” However, he expressed support for the Trump Administration’s “all options on the table” strategy, and he said, “I believe that the best enhancement to diplomacy is a strong military capability.”