The following is the text of an E-mail interview given by me to The Yomiuri Shimbun of Japan :
QUESTION NO.1 With Obama behaving like this, spreading impression he is a nice guy but not to be feared, are you more or less certain the United States will not be able to stop crisis in Iran's nuclear development or Af-Pak situation to be worsened?
MY REPLY: Iran has seen how North Korea has been able to defy theUS and the international community with impunity.Due to the failure ofthe US to act against North Korea before it acquired its military nuclear capability, a pre-emption is no longer an option. North Korea's conventional military capability and its missiles capable of hitting Japan and South Korea rule out the use of the military option against North Korea.. The soft policy of the Obama Administration towards Iran and its inability to take a strong line against North Korea are likely to encourage the hard-liners in Iran who want Iran to acquire a military nuclear capability. The image of Obama as a soft President who tends to avoid a confrontation will also encourage the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda to step up their activities against the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and could derail its Af-Pak policy sooner rather than later.
QUESTION NO.2 Regarding North Korea, where should Obama begin to roll back? Reports from Washington indicate he is about to put more emphasison pressuring Pyongyang rather than pursuing dialogue. Is that the right direction?
MY REPLY: As I see it, the only option left for Obama and Japan is to threaten Beijing with the danger of Japan going nuclear if China does not pressure North Korea to de-nuclearise.One does not know whether this option will work or not, but it deserves to be tried.This fear of a nuclear Japan must be constantly kept before the eyes of Beijing.
QUESTION NO.3: What do you think was North Korea's purpose in carrying out a nuclear explosion at this point? What kind of concessions are they willing to get from the U.S. as well as the international community?
MY REPLY: North Korea wants the international community to accept as a reality its present nuclear stockpile of about six A-bombs and its missile and space capability in return for its agreeing to freeze any further production of fissile material. It also wants assurances of energy supplies and economic assistance.
QUESTION NO.4: Eleven years ago this month, it was India and Pakistan that were in the position of today's North Korea, being under attack from all over the world for carrying out nuclear tests. Many people now suspect North Korea is following the examples of India and Pakistan for defying the NPT regime to win recognition as de facto nuclear powers. Those people therefore still condemn India and Pakistan for their "bad examples" that have compromised the nonproliferation regime. How do you respond to such criticism? Why India's case was different from today's North Korea?
MY REPLY: India is a democratic and open society. It is not a rogue State like North Korea. It is not a state sponsor of terrorism like North Korea. India has an adversary in China, which has a military nuclear capability since 1964. South Korea and Japan, which North Korea looks upon as adversaries, do not have a military nuclear capability.