WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Global leaders need to take North Korea’s potential nuclear capabilities seriously despite the country’s history of technological failures, former European Union advisor Paolo von Schirach told Sputnik.
"They do have atomic weapons and have demonstrated ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland," Schirach stated on Thursday. "It is not clear if they have the capability to place an atomic device on a warhead. It would be very prudent to assume that they can; or that soon enough they will."
Schirach warned that the past record of unpredictable behavior and isolation by North Korea’s leaders should force world leaders to anticipate highly unpredictable and even irrational behavior by decision-makers in Pyongyang.
"Assuming that Kim Jong-un has nuclear missiles with the range to reach the United States, it would be wise to consider this a possible threat. As irrational as the notion of North Korea attacking America may sound, we have to assume that the worst possible scenario may actually become real," Schirach said.
"The US has developed and deployed defenses against a ballistic missiles attack. But Washington does not have many such systems, and they are far from perfect. Only a perfect anti-ballistic missile shield would provide a credible deterrent against a possible North Korean hostile act," he maintained.
Although North Korea constantly claimed its planning was defensive, Pyongyang’s pattern of actions was becoming less predictable over the years, Schirach noted.
"Right now it is hard to say what the game plan may be. Still, new capabilities in terms of sophisticated weapons and long range ballistic missiles to deliver them, combined with bellicose language, should not be dismissed as mere bluff," he advised.
China seemed unlikely to act to topple Kim Jong-un and without its support, the latest expanded UN Security Council sanctions were unlikely to bring Pyongyang to its knees, Schirach claimed.
"Of course, the Chinese realize that Kim Jong-un has become a problem. But most Western analysts believe that Beijing does not want regime change in the North — at least not now. The idea of starving the North Korean regime through more robust sanctions is just not realistic," he concluded.
Paolo von Schirach is a Professor of International Relations at BAU International University in Washington, DC, and publisher and editor of the Schirach Report. Schirach has served as advisor to teh European Union and the US Agency for International Development.