Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defense Nominee Warns Senators about N. Korea

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defense Nominee Warns Senators about N. Korea

Article excerpt

U.S. policymakers face a possible "nightmare scenario" in North Korea and potential dangers from the "rocky and twisted" road to political stability in Russia, William J. Perry said Wednesday.

Perry, No. 2 man at the Pentagon, has been nominated to become defense secretary. As the No. 2 man, he has concentrated on revamping the way the Pentagon buys weapons.

But he used Wednesday's relatively painless confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to try to bolster his credentials on strategic issues such as North Korea and Russia.

Warning that the Cold War's end has not ended the need for a strong U.S. defense, Perry told senators that he supports sending Patriot missiles to South Korea - as well as "aggressive diplomatic efforts" - to help reduce the threat from a possible North Korean nuclear weapons program.

"The prospect of the rogue regime of North Korea acquiring a nuclear weapons capability to add to their massive conventional forces is emblematic of the proliferation problems we face," he said. He told Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that U.S officials should get full support from Japan and China before approving any sanctions against North Korea.

In Russia, Perry said, the United States hopes to use diplomacy in promoting democracy.

President Bill Clinton nominated Perry to replace Defense Secretary Les Aspin, who announced his resignation under pressure in December. Clinton's original choice to replace Aspin was retired Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, a former CIA deputy director who withdrew as the defense secretary nominee last month.

Perry is a former director of research at the Pentagon in the late 1970s and is known at the Pentagon as the father of the radar-evading stealth technology. But at Wednesday's hearing, he appeared to contradict himself about the Pentagon's policy toward last year's congressional agreement to limit production of the B-2 Stealth bomber to 20 aircraft, which are being based at Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri. …

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