March 31st, 2013
02:21 PM ET
5 years ago

House Homeland Security member: North Korea not bluffing

(CNN) - Rep. Peter King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday that the recent provocative, warmongering rhetoric out of North Korea is no "empty threat."

He qualified that by explaining he does not fear the North launching a successful attack on the U.S. mainland, but is concerned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "is trying to establish himself ... trying to be the tough guy," and may "box himself in" and need to display some level of military might.

"My concern would be that he may feel to save face he has to launch some sort of attack on South Korea, or some base in the Pacific," King, R-New York, said on ABC's "This Week."

North Korea has ratcheted up its rhetoric in recent weeks, declaring the armistice keeping the peace between it and the South to be null, distributing a photo with a "plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S.," and on Saturday announcing it was entering a "state of war" with its neighbor.

Despite that and posts on the country's state-run news agency blaring headlines such as "Nuclear War to Be Conducted on Korean Peninsula," a U.S. official said late Friday, "We have no indications at this point that it's anything more than warmongering rhetoric."

"It's sort of like an organized crime family running a territory," King said. "He's brutal, his father is brutal, his grandfather was brutal."

The congressman said he doesn't "see any purpose" in President Barack Obama speaking by phone with the young leader, who assumed control of the country after his father's death in December 2011. Retired basketball star Dennis Rodman visited the country earlier this month and said afterward Kim was interested in speaking with Obama.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have diplomatic ties but have negotiated in multiparty talks over the country's nuclear weapons program and occasionally exchange messages through diplomatic intermediaries.

In response to the North's latest rhetoric, the Obama administration increased its military capacity on the U.S. West Coast and conducted training exercises with South Korea, where nearly 30,000 U.S. troops are stationed.

Ed Gillespie, former senior adviser to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said the administration made a "sensible reaction."

"I think in addition to that, it would be good for the administration to not only bolster our own missile defense, but to support Japan and South Korea with missile defense," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "They are nervous, understandably, and I think doing anything - everything we can to reassure them would be helpful. And obviously, you know, trying to get China to engage in their own region in a way that would be helpful, I think, with Kim Jong Un would be important, too."

King suggested the players are nervous because Kim may feel he has no alternative but to continue upping his threats or lash out.

"He is 28, 29 years old, and he keeps going further and further out, and I don't know if he can get himself back in," King said.

- CNN's Ben Brumfield, KJ Kwon and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report

Filed under: North Korea • Peter King
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Dude in Colorado

    There is credible reason for concern over North Korea's rhetoric...

    March 31, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. X

    So the US goes and exercises and provokes N. Korea and they are the bad ones. North Korea isn’t an examplary nation, but neither is the US, all they do is go and start wars in foreign continents. I wonder how the US would react if North Korea started practicing drills off their west coast. How come the UN doesn’t impose sanctions on the US for their invasion without reason of Iraq, sanctions for their illegal embargo on Cuba, how come the UN allows the US to posses nuclear weapons seeing that they are a huge threat to civilian population all over the world seeing that they purposely targeted them in the Second World War by bombing two Japanese cities.

    March 31, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Slightly Leary

    The above picture looks like Curly Howard, surrounded by four other Stooges.

    March 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. Pete

    Mr.King just send a film from the bomber EnolaGay and tell them if N Korea wants any part of that scenario that finished Japans Hiroshima,Nagasaki killing 140 thousand people in a little over 20 seconds..Todays nuclear weapons are 1000s of times more powerful and don't have to be dropped by bombers only..Take your Titan,Minute man missiles launched from subs right off N Koreas coast and do you think China wants to be involved,not on your life ...The only problem with nukes is the radiation, aftereffects and they're not good taking radioactive particules where ever the winds take it and Japan as well as China,Russia plus no barrier S Korea would be effected no doubt as well ..It's basicly a no win situation especially for N Korea because you can't help a country that doesn't exist anymore at least not radioactively contaminated like they would be for thousands of years!!

    March 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Peter King is an opportunistic windbag. He never knows when to shut his trap!

    March 31, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. Doc Savage

    Once "false move" by this little twerp, and we won't have to worry anymore about North Korea.

    March 31, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Former Republican, now an Independent

    If King's party had restrained the Bush Administration from alienating the U.S. from most of the free world, these extremist countries would not be tolerated by the countries of the world. Instead, they now have the sympathetic ears of the world due to the GOP years making us look like a bunch of redneck bullies looking for a fight.

    March 31, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. A Kickin` Donkey

    We should have the CIA track him so that if and when we launch an attack, he is the 1stcommand & control assett we destroy.

    Before any Republican inspired WARS or localized military action is EVER taken, journalists should grill them to delineate the precise definition of success, the ADDITIONAL COST, the means [tax increase] to cover the additional cost, the EXIT strategy and why it is VITAL to the Interests of the American citizen. If they don`t press for this on the record so that accountability can be attributted later then the media doesn`t deserve "1st Amendment rights".

    In 2002, the media got bamboozzled by Bush and was tricked by the superficial discussion on the threat. In this case WMDs.

    March 31, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Sautee

    North Korea is a big joke United States will flatten your ass

    March 31, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. MaryM

    Then if you take No. Korea and little kim seriously, just send in the drones and put a stot to it, now. Dont give them a chance to strike first

    March 31, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The child king has to show he has grown up and is in charge.

    That bodes badly for the rest of the world.

    March 31, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. Nam Marine

    Maybe North Korea will make D.C. disappear?

    March 31, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    China should take over the north unless they want a big hole next door!!!!

    March 31, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. g

    looks a job for the drone boys

    March 31, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  15. Larry L

    They referred to the U.S. as a "boiled pumpkin". That is an interesting analogy since they ate the last pumpkim in North Korea about forty years ago. Good memory!

    March 31, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. darly314

    King is reliable as Cheney. This should have been addressed 12 YEARS ago, instead we sacrificed US lives in The Hunt For The Man Who Threatened Poppy. Baby Bush left the Saudi financiers of al Qaeda in the clear; now, what nation believes we are what we were pre Bush, the Lesser?

    March 31, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. slime

    he is using a MAC

    March 31, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. Matt

    When Kim threatens an ex President in 43 he is really threatening Obama. The last person to do that sort of thing was Saddam. It would not have mattered if 41 and 43 were related or it was 39. If a President can be influenced by such threats then they cannot do their job. I remember when all the living Presidents and President elect Obama were in the oval office, what did Bush say, it is a club, if you are lucky enough to get in it. It is just not done. Threaten one you threaten them all. That is how you judge a regime, even Iran does not do that, no other big power does it, it just not done it is like an unwritten agreement. Saddam, Kim that sort of regime, they do it.

    March 31, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. rs

    King has banged the war drum over pretty much every foreign affairs event from Pakistan to Syria to Libya to Iran. Why should he do anything different now?
    The truth is the Korean War was never concluded with a treaty, and the North Korean leadership seems to be every bit as nutty as King himself- probably more so.
    Here's a tip GOP: we can't afford war anymore- you guys made that a reality. We'll just have to let someone else- do the heavy lifting for awhile. Halliburton's war profits will simply have to wait awhile.

    March 31, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  20. Getoverit

    @ Former Republican, now an Independent
    If King’s party had restrained the Bush Administration from alienating the U.S. from most of the free world, these extremist countries would not be tolerated by the countries of the world.
    Blame Bush......again......yawn.......

    March 31, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  21. Name Uche Agonsi

    Four haunting questions that comes to mind on US posturings as 'Leader of Free World' are ....the strenght/capability of US defence, & its inclusiveness like NK boasting of protective bunkers for its citizenry...then the wavering support of US public opinions which always tends to be short term in war situations...also there is the issues of technological sustainability of US in defence apparatus with US Congress constraints on budgets & economic developments inspired by hate politics....Then comes to the issue of how aggressive is NATO policies to deter the growing military capabilities of Russia & China , even small desparate countries & communities, moreso under the current EEC economic plagues....
    America needs to re-evaluate its Leadership strategies/approaches to include options outside this war mongering designs/tradition. It shoud not also forget the cyber/computer technology which can obliterate any defence advantage it has overnight.....Hagels factors/opinions in designing other approaches should not be ignored & the Afghan venture should be called off even before the due date b/cos of other demands like the need to improve US debt situations(not crisis ) & employment/unemployment cris.

    April 1, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  22. NameR

    North Korea is just a front for China and is testing nuclear technology on behalf of China. If we take on North Korea we take on Chins and Russia. India will hit China, Pakistan will hit India, Isreal will hit Iran and there won't be much left.

    April 1, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  23. helenecha

    Peter King is creditable, but going to the opera together with him is much more interesting than having a cup of coffee with him, anyway.

    April 1, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  24. Thomas

    Rep. Peter King needs to sit down and be cool . This is the true test of China , with power comes responsibility !

    China doesn't want a few million North Korean refugees storming across there border . The Chines are at the point where they want Kim Jong Un to go on a long vacation , He is bad for business !

    April 1, 2013 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    This guy is the third family dictator in the line and tjhey all came out with the same rhetoric... will this guy execute a threat I know not but susoect he wont.
    My solution maybe totally non humanitarian but we should:-
    a) Stop all food aid to N Korea and any and all financial transactions.
    b) Blockade all ships with a NK destination I,e inspoection of cargo for food or military supplies direct or indirect.
    Oroblem is to get china on board and secondly it could enrage the dictator in to launching out against the west. If he did he has to know he and Nth korea face nuclear Annihiliation as part of the a/b ultimatum... so sit down/talk or you nation eventually starves to death.... and know the control terms will be severe and breaches bring back full a/b/ nuke retribution
    He does not nor his father or original supreme leader listen to normal international diplomatic speak.
    Get tough very tough diplomatically and a non military but effective war using the basic need of life for the nation I. e food... it will work better than diplomacy or Bombs ultimately.

    April 1, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
1 2 3