Are We Heading for a Blow-Up on the Korean Peninsula? | Wilson Center

Key Quotes

Robert Daly

“China’s position in its public pronouncements over the past year has been that tensions on the Korean peninsula are primarily an issue between North Korea and the U.S., which it posits as two squabbling children with moral equivalence between the two of them who may be leading the world toward a nuclear war.”

“The notion that China is merely a bystander is entirely false. North Korea is not China’s creature and China can’t call the shots there, but the Kim regime would not exist without China’s long term support, nor would its nuclear weapons program.”

Jean H. Lee

“Even though South Koreans are accustomed to rhetoric and provocations from North Korea, there is a new element this spring that is making people jittery, and that is Donald Trump. South Koreans see provocation from North Korea as following a certain pattern but what they don’t now is how the White House is going to react.”

“The pace of the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles is unprecedented and something that raises alarm.”

Robert S. Litwak

“North Korea is on the verge of a nuclear breakout.  That would be a game-changer. I called it a slow motion Cuban Missile Crisis.  A crisis that will play out, not over thirteen days as in October 1962, but over the next few years.”

“When I got into this field, I could not have conceived of a North Korea acquiring a nuclear arsenal approaching one half the size of Great Britain.”

James Person

“As President Trump seeks to secure the cooperation of China and regional allies to rein in North Korea, there is a very real possibility that the next South Korean president could oppose the efforts to tighten screws on North Korea.”

“North Korea is a paranoid regime. They believe that the possession of nuclear weapons will guarantee their security. Mistrust of a maligned and predatory world has been the basis of their foreign and national security policy since the inception of the regime in 1948.”




  • Robert Daly

    Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States
  • Jean H. Lee

    Director, Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy
    Journalist and former Pyongyang Bureau Chief, Associated Press
  • Robert S. Litwak

    Senior Vice President and Director of International Security Studies
  • James Person

    Global Fellow
    Professor of Korean Studies and Asia Programs, JHU SAIS; Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS