Conflict & Justice

Beneath the Rhetoric, Why North Korean Nuclear Threats Actually Pose a Problem for the US


Credit: © Reuters TV / Reuters

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un holds up a pistol as he supervises pistol and automatic file firing drills at the second battalion under North Korea People's Army (KPA), in this still image taken from video footage released on April 5, 2013, by the North's state-run television KRT. REUTERS/KRT via Reuters Tv (NOTRH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NORTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORTH KOREA - RTXY9RG

It's hard to take the dramatic threats from Pyongyang seriously, even if they do present a challenge for the US government.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

David Straub is an associate director of North Korean Studies at Stanford University.

He thinks North Korea suffers from an image issue of its own making, but that one shouldn't dismiss the strategic constraints it poses to the US.