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. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    North korea leader 'fat uh huh hun' Has me shakeing in my boots. But really all jokes aside its time for our country to come together and come up with a plan to deal with the North and it must have input from the south,and Japan. there are alot more in danger then we are.

    April 1, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  2. Marie MD

    For a moment there I thought king was speaking about his car of clowns for 2016.
    This leader of North Korea is a petulant little boy who now rules the country his daddy did for so many years. Reminds me of the shrub #43 (except that he hasn't sent anyone yet to a fake war) fighting daddy's #41 war.

    April 1, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  3. North Korean Observer

    The winds are blowing North, Northeast from Seoul to the North Korean capitol where Kim resides. So the young boy wants to explode a nuclear device and wage nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula - and contaminate all of north Korea in the process. Kim must be suicidal.....if I were a senior North Korean military leader, I'd have Kim declared insane and remove him from office immediately..... or maybe just shoot him

    April 1, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  4. v_mag

    The right wingers have spent all this time worrying us about Iran. It might, someday, maybe, have a nuke. Meanwhile, people just as insane, that we know have nukes and missiles, have been ignored. I hate to say it, but I believe North Korea will use a nuke, and soon.

    April 1, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. Bob

    Why... WHY is Ed "I backed the loser" Gillespie even speaking on this topic?

    Seriously, who cares what that loser says?

    April 1, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Rosslaw

    The real danger is that Kim Johng Un is North Korea's version of "W". Never heard a shot fired in anger, no concept of what a war entails, actually thinking that he can control events. In a word, dumb as a post and therefore dangerous as a mental case with a AR 15 in a theater.

    April 1, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I'll take this little twerp seriously when he gets a haircut that actually makes him look like a human being.

    April 1, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. Chuk

    What does Rep King know about North Korea? Nothing. But here comes another "expert" who wants to drum up support for a hasty invasion because they're paranoid. Next thing you know he'd be wondering why the U.S is "leading from behind". These neocons never learn from their bone-headed rush to war. They will not until they themselves pay the high price of war. Since they or their children never pay the ultimate price, these haste to war attitude will continue!

    April 1, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Tom

    It's is obvious that NK wants to appear as if they will start a war that they cannot finish... thus leaving themselves occupied by the U.S. China cannot have this, so they will give aid to NK... Simple as that.

    April 1, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. bford

    Anyone notice the mindset of the libs' comments on this site? How do you derive anti Bush and anti right winger remarks from this story? North Korea is the enemy you dummies, not your fellow Americans!

    April 1, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. derykhouston

    I find it very interesting how the US always seems to get itself down a dead end path without knowing how it got there. It did it with the Cuban missile crisis. It did it in Vietnam.It did it in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    It is always the "other" person who is to blame. It is never the US fault. The other person is "always" the madman. Never the USA.
    And yet the USA will never give up it's own nuclear weapons or it's bullying tactics where it crushes anyone who does not do exactly as the US wishes.
    It is always the other country that is at fault.
    I like the USA an what it stands for but I also believe that the most dangerous country in the world is the USA. It crushes other countries economies at will without any regard to the people in that country. It is willing to stop much needed food and medical supplies as a tool for getting what it wants. I saw this first hand in Iraq myself. (They said food was allowed under those sanctions but then they blocked supplies to keep the electrical grid working and so freezers and and storage became practically impossible. Computers were also blocked which made distribution impossible. etc. etc etc.)
    No country is not going to co operate with threats and bullying. This is something the USA does not understand and it will bite them in the rear.
    The twin tower attacks were blowback for US foreign policy. The American people still don;t know why it happened.

    April 1, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Mike

    Unless Russia and China start giving North Korea updated military technology I don't think we have a reason to worry about a strike on us.

    April 1, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. greg

    Kim has declared the 1953 truce void. He has threatened to target US assets and our Allies. Why wait. Sink his navy. Take out his long range weapons and air defenses. But DO NOT invade. One the time is right send a Tomahawk or two to every place Kim visits until they get the idea.

    They don't need missiles to bomb the US. They just need to sneak a bomb into the US and truck it to where ever they want.

    Why wait any longer?

    April 1, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I have to disagree with Mr. King. How in the world is Jong-un going to save face if he's overthrown. I'm very disappointed in Jong-un's behavior simply because after he took over leadership, I thought he would have seize on the opportunity to govern from a lesser hardline stance as his father and grandfather and try to improve relations with the West. What Jong-un doesn't seem to realize is that America does NOT isolate a country or refrain from doing trade with a country simply because it is a communist country. For decades America has criticized Russia and China for its human rights violations and we have openly condemned their practices of throwing dissidents in prison without a trial or just cause. However, outside of social and civil constraints within these countries, we always try to maintain diplomatic relations with these countries for the purpose of global peace and stability. And never onve in the past 40 years has the U.S. ever spoke of wanting to overthrow the NK government. A matter of fact, our presence in SK is because it is the North that has been involved in aggression and hostile rhetoric throughout the course of this conflict. I'm simply disappointed that Mr. Jong-un has squandered the opportunity to make history by improving relations with the West and joining the league of nations. You blew it Sir.

    April 1, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. v_mag

    bford – The reason right wingers are implicated in this story is that they are always the ones pushing for war in the Middle East. They keep the focus anti-Muslim and pro-Israel. Meanwhile, a real live insane ruler with nukes and missiles to deliver them rattles sabres to the west, and the righties act like that's just par for the course. This is not a new thing. The North Koreans have had nukes since before Bush, and they have made threatening noises that George Warcriminal Bush totally ignored, preferring instead to pursue Weapons of Mythical Destruction in Iraq, and costing this country dearly. Bush's antics have made us far less able to counter the real threat from N. Korea.

    April 1, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY


    Anyone notice the mindset of the libs' comments on this site? How do you derive anti Bush and anti right winger remarks from this story? North Korea is the enemy you dummies, not your fellow Americans!

    Duh Duh Duh-bya...."your either with us or against us" He meant that comment to apply to anyone who dared to disagree with his invasion tactics and call the "unamurkin"

    April 1, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. DJ Reality

    What's that knocking sound coming out of Washington? Why that's Rep. Kings Knees Knocking together. The seem to be a little weak. North Korean has been acting like a spoiled step-child since it was created. But hey King can't remember that. So now he thinks we should be afraid if them. I think Rep. King should cower from North Korean's chest thumping. They've been doing it for over 50 years. Why is now any different than before? I think King needs to grow a pair and study history. He didn't do that in college.

    April 1, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. thekarl

    North Korea is a Kingdom! The country's first "President" Kim Il-sung passed power after his death to is son Kim Il-sung 2 who was declared the country's "Eternal President" (king), who now has passed power to his son Kim Jong Un (prince, now king). Let's stop pretending this is anything but a repressive monachy.

    April 1, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. Controversies in the addiction field

    You can't have a successful agriculture season(s) and a nuclear war in the same year.

    The planning aspect of this weekend's meeting illuminated the idea that immediate death wish wasn't first on the agenda.

    That said, there's still that one part of the cycle missing and nobody wants to see it. I'm hoping we've traded cannons for computers this time. A tiny step in the right, yet still destructive, direction. Timing is funny anyway.

    After making diplomats look like fools for decades for the benefit of some egg on the face, I can understand why nobody wants to touch this. Other than a direct phone call with the Prez, isn't there a meaningful way of communicating? What does the DPRK recommend?

    April 1, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. amarjeet

    North Korean very act of cancelling armistice followed by open threats on US bases & South Korea are direct proof of serious concern to USA and the world. As threats involve many countries in the region incase of nuclear war as targets and residual effects, it is worth while that NATO and other nations with similar capacity of armed forces should be enlisted to co operate in joint action and support military coordinated action against North Korea direct threat like WWII.

    April 1, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. St Xavier

    If NK is the first to start some thing with a NUKE then we'll have no other choice then to step in theres no one else who can set thngs right. For us to use a NUKE like an eye for an eye really isn't a good choice we have more then enough of other means then a NUKE to rerspond with. It will be very sad for the NK people to have to endure any war responce from the US or any other counrtry. The NK people need to wake up.

    April 1, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. B.

    Yeah, lets get everyone all worked up and start yet another War to keep our status as Worlds Cops..

    It never ends!

    April 1, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    So should I or should I not pay the mortgage this month?

    April 1, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Joe Smith

    What we need is some really good intel on where Kim Num Nut and his "advisors" are, so we can do a quick surgical strike.

    April 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Brian

    Yup. Since I'm sure Mr. King knows far more about North Korea's plan than South Korea does. He must have read the story yesterday about how Seoul was laughing at them and realized he would need to up his game to drum up support for more war and fear mongering. Sorry man, but the people are not buying what you're selling. How much of a threat does he think a country with a GDP 10% of that of Michigan is capable of? Maybe some Cold War era MIGs and leftover AK47s from the Korean War.

    April 1, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
1 2 3