North Korea watching U.S. moves on Syria

Sept. 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- North Korea will conclude from U.S. actions in Syria that bold rhetoric won't be backed up with military force, a former CIA analyst said.

Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst and senior research fellow at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, wrote in a column Thursday on 38 North, a blog run by Johns Hopkins University, that Pyongyang was watching Washington's reaction to the Syrian crisis closely.

U.S. President Barack Obama warmed to Russian-led initiatives to avoid military action in Syria after saying the use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" for firm action against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

"Pyongyang will conclude that President Obama's bold rhetoric, including that directed against North Korea, was unlikely to be backed with significant military action," he wrote. "The regime will incorporate this perceived American passivity into its decision-making in future confrontations with Washington and Seoul.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University this week said satellite imagery taken of the Yongbyon reactor in North Korea shows signs Pyongyang is rebuilding its nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Since 2006, North Korea has conducted three tests of nuclear devices, the most recent in February. Multilateral talks between both Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan were suspended in 2009.

Glyn Davis, the U.S. envoy on North Korea policy, said Washington didn't feel North Korean attitudes were conducive to talks.

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