In response to your Oct. 18 article "North Korea: What now?": The most frightening aspect of North Korea's breach of an antinuclear treaty is not that a Communist dictatorship is developing nuclear weapons, but that it admitted to it so boldly. At least Iraq and Iran still fear the United States enough to repeatedly deny having nuclear programs.
North Korea's brazen statements imply it doesn't fear US retribution. And why should it? US threats are usually empty. Our leaders back down from them in the face of international disapproval, shrinking to a safe position of appeasement.
We must reverse this policy. Now that one of the "axis" powers has defied the US openly, others will soon follow. Their next step may not be announcing nuclear weapons, but using them.
Regarding "North Korea: What now?": In 1994, the Clinton administration struck a deal with North Korea, in which the Koreans were to halt work on dual-use nuclear technology, with civilian and military applications, in exchange for the US, Japan, and South Korea providing oil and support for the construction of nuclear reactors that did not produce waste capable of weaponization.
When George Bush took office, US intelligence indicated that North Korea was complying with this agreement. So it came as a shock to the international community when President Bush announced that Kim Jong Il could not be trusted. This announcement was a public insult to Kim Jong II and to South Korean president Kim Dae Jung, with whom Mr. Bush was meeting when the announcement was made.
The Bush administration put on hold the energy assistance the Clinton accord had promised. For Bush to claim that North Korea has violated the 1994 agreement is erroneous; the revelation that North Korea is working on a nuclear-weapons program should not be construed as a vindication of the efficacy of Bush's foreign policy. It is the result of a policy that draws an international line of demarcation, classifying those who agree with us as friends and those who disagree as enemies.