President Kennedy On The North Korean Missile Crisis


As I have reiterated in this space and in my campaign platform, North Korea’s short-, medium-, and long-range missile testing represents a clear and present nuclear danger to the United States.

The facts speak for themselves. North Korea possesses rocket-ready nuclear warheads. North Korea is testing ground- and submarine-based nuclear-capable missiles on a routine basis. This week that prison nation launched three missions from ground platforms. Last week it launched a nuclear-capable missile from one of its submarines. North Korean is also  threatening preemptive nuclear attacks on the United States and its allies.

Only madmen would make such threats. But precisely because North Korea’s leaders are mad, their threats cannot be ignored, especially by anyone who seeks the Presidency. Yet Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who have articulated no firm policy for dealing with North Korea, are doing precisely this. Neither even bothered mentioning North Korea in last night’s national security forum.

There should be no doubt. North Korea’s missile testing represents the equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Indeed, it is arguably worse. The missiles they are launching, ostensibly for testing purposes, could, on any given day, be armed with nuclear war heads. Our military cannot definitively determine whether the missiles being launched by North Korea are so armed, where they are aimed, nor when they will be fired.

As President, I would impose an immediate militarily-enforced cessation to North Korean missile launches of any range from any platform and by any means.

Such a stance presents grave risks. But the risk of doing nothing, of letting North Korea achieve, in short order, its goal of bringing every city, town, and village in our county within its nuclear gun sights presents an even greater risk — to ourselves and to our children.

It would do us well in this context to review what President Kennedy said at the outset of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He would surely apply the same words to the current situation with North Korea.

Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation’s security to constitute maximum peril. Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.

The 1930’s taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged ultimately leads to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country.

Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation, which leads a worldwide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is required–and it is under way; and these actions may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth–but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.

Acting, therefore, in the defense of our own security and of the entire Western Hemisphere, and under the authority entrusted to me by the Constitution as endorsed by the resolution of the Congress, I have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately.

Kennedy then proceeded to declare a naval embargo on Cuba and make clear to the Soviet Union that either they would remove the nuclear missiles they had placed in Cuba or we would do so by invading Cuba.

The Soviets blinked and complied. But the United States also made concessions by removing our nuclear missiles based in Turkey. As President I would make significant concessions to North Korea including recognizing its national sovereignty, signing a peace treaty, and fully normalizing diplomatic and trade relations — all conditional on the complete destruction of North Korea’s existing nuclear armaments and all equipment that could remotely be used to build nuclear weapons. North Korea would also need to pledge never again to develop weapons of mass destruction.

This is what I would do, within the powers of the President and with the support of Congress, to deal with our greatest national security challenge. I would not, as my opponents propose, place vague and vain hope in economic sanctions or help from China, which has had decades to provide that help, but has refused to do so.

 

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