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Report: N. Korea More Unstable Now Than in 1990s

Posted January. 30, 2009 07:10,   


Experts in Washington said yesterday that North Korea today is more unstable than it was in the mid-1990s.

They held a roundtable discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in the wake of the release of the council’s report “Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea.”

The North faced an extremely bleak situation in July 1994 when it faced widespread famine and the death of its founder Kim Il Sung, but did not collapse.

“Resilient though it has proven to be (under Kim Jong Il), North Korea is still a fundamentally weak state,” said Paul Stares, co-author of the report and director of the council’s Center for Preventive Action.

Stares said the North’s possession of weapons of mass destruction has put the communist country at greater risk rather than improve security.

The stakes are too high to be unprepared for the possibility of Kim’s sudden death, he said, adding that a fourth of stroke sufferers over age 60 die within a year. More than half die within five years.

Scott Snyder, senior associate at the Asia Foundation, said it is uncertain who will succeed Kim Jong Il, adding, “That’s what makes the North look more insecure.”

He said it is an open secret that China rejected the Bush administration’s proposal to prepare joint countermeasures in the case of sudden and destabilizing change in the North.