Washington State University political scientist Thomas Preston says North Korea’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability are intended to deter against outside aggression and North Korea is unlikely ever to export nuclear weapons technology. “I think it is irresponsible hyperbole to suggest they will sell them to others,” Preston says. “They have had chemical weapons and biological weapons for decades and never sold those. They are too few in number and too valuable for that.”

Preston believes that the Bush administration has been unwilling to engage in substantive, serious negotiations with the North Koreans for the past four years. ”The current deteriorating situation is primarily a result of that failed policy. Pyongyang is quite likely engaging in diplomatic brinksmanship to try to put pressure on the White House to back off of some of its hard-line positions,” Preston says. “Unless we are planning to invade the North, we really don’t need to create an ‘artificial urgency’ to this situation. It really only becomes a true crisis if we overreact and lose patience in continuing a diplomatic process. If we just maintain status quo for a time, and come back with another offer, Pyongyang can just as quickly decide to resume participation in the six-party talks.”

A specialist in security policy, foreign affairs and political psychology, Preston has frequently served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense (on Korea), the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He joined the WSU faculty in 1994; he teaches undergraduate courses on international relations, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. national security policy and Russian politics, as well as graduate seminars on international security and political leadership.

Preston’s latest book, “From Lambs to Lions: Nuclear and Biological Weapon Proliferation’s Impact on Future Interstate Security Relationships” is now under review by Columbia University Press and is expected to be published soon.

To arrange to interview Preston, contact Robert Strenge, WSU News Bureau, 509.335.3583, or rstrenge@wsu.edu.