Pyongyang, North Korea.
KCNA via Reuters

ARMED AND DANGEROUS

Although a third of the "axis of evil" is now occupied by U.S. forces, the other two thirds -- North Korea and Iran -- remain clear threats to U.S. interests. Consider North Korea: in February 2005, Pyongyang announced that it had nuclear weapons, and it is now thought to have several of them, or at least the material to build them. Over time, if the United States does nothing, North Korea's arsenal will surely grow, as will the amount of its fissile material. The results of this growth will be destabilizing and potentially disastrous: a sizable North Korean nuclear arsenal might well stimulate similar weapons programs in both Japan and South Korea, diminishing the region's stability. The repercussions could also spread far beyond Northeast Asia if Pyongyang decides to sell its new weapons or nuclear fuel for hard currency -- as it has with drugs and

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  • Richard N. Haass is President of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was Director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff from 2001 to 2003. This article is drawn from his recently published book, The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course.
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