It is impossible to predict the outcome of North Korea’s nuclear threats against the United States and South Korea, former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a March 13 media conference sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.
“We are in danger, sometimes, of over-analyzing,” Rudd said. “None of us, ultimately, knows. I have been to North Korea twice but I feel more unenlightened” now than in the past.
What is known, Rudd said, is the North Korean commitment to missile technology is not new, the tests show the nation’s nuclear capability has progressed and North Korea wants to be impervious to outside pressure.
Also not new are the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to distance itself from North Korea’s more-extreme statements and actions.
China’s support of a United Nations resolution criticizing North Korea does not come as a surprise, Rudd said, because China seeks an increasing role in international affairs and must distance itself from irresponsible statements and actions.
China and North Korea have a deep and broad relationship with North Korea that goes back about two-thirds of a century, Rudd said, and the internal political discussion in China revolves around finding a way to help keep their friends in line while not abandoning their long-term allies.
For more of Rudd’s views on the future of diplomatic relations with China, read “Beyond the Pivot,” an article Rudd wrote for the March/April 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs.
Rudd, 55, served as Australia’s prime minister from 2007-10, and as its foreign minister from 2010-12.
He is a member of the Australian Parliament and a member of the Labor Party.