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Ross: Dangers of impatience with North Korea are the size of a grapefruit

If Kim Jung Un's regime falls, North Korean smugglers won't waste any time. (AP)

A report in the Washington Post says Vice President Mike Pence is taking a hard line on North Korea – it must abandon its nuclear programs without any promise of direct negotiations.

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Phillip Yun, who runs the Ploughshares Fund, is worried.

“[Vice President] Pence and others have said that the era of strategic patience is over and they’re implying that there’s a completely new policy,” Yun told me. “More pressure, more sanctions. We’ve done that, it didn’t work.”

Yun is all about getting rid of nukes. But threats, he says, won’t work, and the reason is simple.

“When I talk with the North Koreans, they keep on saying, ‘How is it that the United States, the most powerful country that’s ever existing, is so afraid of a tiny little country in northeast Asia?'” Yun said. “And I said, ‘Well, it’s because of your provocative behavior and how you do all of this.’ And they said, ‘Well, we have more reason to be afraid of you than you have from us.'”

Which is why he says Kim Jong-un will never abandon his nukes.

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As for us launching an attack? Well, we’d win, but the catch is that North Korea has been producing a 17-pound ball of plutonium every two months.

“We’re talking about a grapefruit size of plutonimum or highly enriched uranium that’s easily smuggled out,” Yun said.

If the regime falls, the smugglers won’t waste any time.

“What happens is, if that grapefruit-sized material leaves,” Yun said. “Chances are — I’d say 95 percent, 100 percent — that it will explode somewhere in the United States, Europe or Israel.”

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