A Kansas University professor who once was a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar in South Korea said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would be unwise to question North Korea's declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons.
Rumsfeld voiced his misgivings on North Korea's claims at an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers Thursday in Nice, France. He cited past claims by North Korea of building weapons that proved to be false.
But George Frederickson, distinguished professor in public administration at KU, said that while Rumsfeld was entitled to his opinion, he would take North Korea's claims "very seriously."
"I don't imagine it is about taking risks," Frederickson said. "We have a tendency to not take North Korea seriously, which surprises me as we were so quick to believe Iraq."
The professor said he also thought the United States should begin direct negotiations with North Korea.
"All the Korean diplomats that I know say that we would lose very little through speaking with North Korea directly," Frederickson said.
Miwha Stevenson, KU assistant professor in the Korean language program, said she agreed that the United States would be better off speaking with North Korea one-on-one rather than at a six-party negotiation.
Kansas University journalism student Gary Meenaghan can be reached at 832-7154.