July 20th, 2009
03:12 PM ET

North Korea’s direct threat to U.S. “infinitesimal”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/04/nkorea.missiles/art.north.south.korea.soldiers.afp.gi.jpg caption="N. Korean army soldiers, back, look at a S. Korean soldier, center, in the demilitarized zone in June."]

Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

The State Department Monday continued to publicly downplay the threat North Korea presents to the U.S.—spokesman n P.J. Crowley telling reporters North Korea “represents an infinitesimal threat to the United States directly.”

The spokesman’s statement followed comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with ABC broadcast Monday in which she said the reason for the United States’ low-key reaction to the North’s recent missile test was "We weren't going to give the North Koreans the satisfaction they were looking for, which was to elevate them to center stage."

In that interview, Clinton said the North has a “constant demand for attention" and added "maybe it's the mother in me, the experience I've had with small children and teen-agers and people who are demanding attention: Don't give it to them."

While calling the direct threat to the U.S. “infinitesimal,” Crowley went on to say that “North Korea, and its provocative actions, does represent a significant threat to the region and its actions recently have been unhelpful and potentially destabilizing.”

A senior U.S. official, speaking on background, said there is a “theoretical” question of whether a North Korean missile could hit the United States. “There’s nothing in their recent development,” he said, “which would suggest that their technology is becoming more accurate.”

The U.S. says its primary concerns about North Korea’s actions are its impact on security in the region and the risk of nuclear proliferation.

Last week the United Nations imposed sanctions on a number of North Korean individuals, companies and goods connected with the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Taking aim at several key North Korean officials, it subjected them to a freeze on their assets and an international travel ban.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Tim Gibson

    Are we safe within the bindings of our paper pushers who have proven to fail in protecting this nation, the US, from attack. The answer would have to be a resounding NO.

    The paper pushers who claim safety are not a valid tool in protecting our national borders, nor the region around N. Korea. Are they a threat, yes they are.

    How much time will pass before we once again listen to the words, we never would have imagined?

    July 20, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    North Korea is China's problem! Simply put it's pure geography,and that goes for Japan,and Russia. Their all grown up now,and capable to arm themselves. It's been approx.65 years since the end of WWII. America cannot keep footing the bills,period! We are spread so thin,that one day we could hypothetically wake up one morning,and have a bulletless coup. Now, how can I make such a preposterous statement? Simple,a cyber attack that takes out all our nuclear missle arsenals-defense system,and bares our soil to any foreign enemy! I'll leave it up to you, to figure out who mostly would wants our hides,...? Really folks,start thinking the unthinkable,and stop being so complacent. JMHO PS These Politician's are,"leading us down the path (road) of destruction",sound familiar.

    July 20, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  3. JC- Los Angeles

    If the State Department thought nothing of investigating Saudi nationals who were taking flying lessons pre-9/11, it should surprise no one that they now feel North Korea is no threat at all.

    The President should immediately send Hillary Clinton to Seoul or Shanghai to have South Korea and China broker the release of the American journalists and start talks on nuclear disarmament.

    Our President, who most likely has never once been in a fight, needs to realize fireside chats, smokes with the boys and group hugs accomplish nothing.

    July 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm |