Obama adviser: North Korea not an imminent threat to the US

The strategy on North Korea at the White House continues to shift in an odd direction.  First, Barack Obama called North Korea a “regional threat” after its missile launch in April, and this week declared the nation a threat to global peace after its nuclear test.  Now Obama’s national security adviser James Jones say’s they’re not an imminent threat at all, despite Kim Jong-Il’s rejection of the 56-year truce — and the 25,000 American soldiers on the other side of the DMZ:

President Obama’s national security adviser on Wednesday said that North Korea’s recent nuclear detonation and subsequent missile tests are not “an imminent threat” to the safety and security of the United States.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, in his first speech on the administration’s approach to national security, said that the “imminent threat” posed by North Korea is that of the proliferation of nuclear technologies to other countries and terrorist organizations.

North Korea still has “a long way” to “weaponize” and work on the delivery of its nuclear missiles before they pose a threat to U.S. security, Jones said in a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council.

“Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us,” Jones said. “We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, so no reason not to believe them.”

Pardon me, but I’d say that any nation that threatened the lives of 25,000 American soldiers is by definition an imminent threat to the United States.  In fact, that’s exactly the reason we have stationed those troops on the DMZ.  We have them set up as a tripwire to keep Kim from overrunning the DMZ and capturing Seoul by making it clear that we consider any such threat as aimed at the US as well as South Korea.

Even beyond that, Kim’s ICBM capabilities have grown over the last few years, as his latest launch demonstrated.  His Taepodong missiles have a theoretical range that takes them into the continental US, and a practical range that includes Hawaii and Alaska.  Last time I checked, those both were part of the US, not to mention the various territories we still control in the Pacific west of Hawaii.  Maybe Kim hasn’t figured a way to attach a nuke to one — the nuclear test this week makes that a questionable assumption, as North Korea would probably only be testing warhead nukes anyway — but even a conventional warhead would be an “imminent threat” if it hit Honolulu.

Has the Obama administration settled on a strategy of apathy?  Does he think ignoring Kim will make him go away?  I have to admit that no one has tried that strategy with North Korea, perhaps because no one has been crazy enough to think it will work.  At what point will they stop playing golf and start considering Kim an imminent threat?  When he plants his flag in Seoul?

At least that explains the four-hour round of golf as a response to the nuclear test.

Update: Gaurav in the comments makes a good point:

Main threat from NK is proliferation to failed or rogue states and from there to Jihadi orgs.

Yes, and that became imminent with the first successful nuclear test.