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Asia politics expert: Take NKorea's threats seriously

Kim Jong Un (AP Photo)

PHOENIX -- Roe Goddard with the Thunderbird School of Global Management said there's a lot of heated rhetoric and sabre rattling coming out of North Korea and it won't take much to spark a major conflict in that region.

"Given what's a stake and the alignment of forces there, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is to be taken seriously. He's young, untested and it's difficult to separate bluster from potential for action. The United States and South Korea lack good intelligence on who has the finger on the trigger and who is making the major decisions."

Goddard, an associate professor of international political economy, believes China could be the eventual peacemaker. China does not want a stepped-up U.S. military presence in the region.

"That's what every American is hoping for. That China in western eyes will become a responsible partner and tell Kim Jong Un that enough is enough. But any escalation between North Korea and the United States will inevitably involve China and could bring the U.S. and China head to head and that would be economically devastating.

"I'm concerned that the U.S. could be overwhelmed by a million man army, with less than 30,000 troops in South Korea, would resort to tactical, lower megaton nuclear weapons."

Goddard said North Korea is cornered and that ratchets up the danger.

"They're isolated because of heavy sanctions and the hunger growing. They can't purchase many imported products. They're cornered economically, politically and militarily. They don't have much to lose and might feel the only way to get the worlds attention is to bargain using their conventional military forces."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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