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North Korea: State of the Union Benchwarmer

By Linda Butcher

Known as the “Political Super Bowl,” the 2013 State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama did not disappoint. In the hours leading up to it, people guessed what would be discussed, which SOTU game they would partake in and who would be seated in FLOTUS’s box.

But, in just less than 23 hours before the big show, the world had its own version of the Superdome blackout. North Korea had conducted its third nuclear test.

Was this a surprise to POTUS? According to sources, North Korea warned the U.S. and South Korea of its intention to conduct a third nuclear test. Even more so, the White House made the statement that “this wasn’t a surprise” and that POTUS would already be addressing nonproliferation in his speech. But the damage was already done and critics began questioning just how effective President Obama has been in his nuclear nonproliferation goals.

Many speculated that his speech would change to address this issue, but fortunately for Cody Keenan, the SOTU version of Joe Flacco, it barely made a difference. Instead, POTUS generalized and stated:

America will continue to lead the effort to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. The regime in North Korea must know that they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations.  Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats.

This obviously is not the Down the Field March that many North Korea watchers were hoping for, but rather the safe play that you make when you are already 10 points ahead with 15 seconds left on the clock.

Linda Kim is the Director of Programs for the Korea Economic Institute. The views expressed here are her own.

Photo from jilig’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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