WASHINGTON — The founder of North Korea's ruling dynasty, an isolationist totalitarian leader named Kim Il Sung, was still building some of the country's first nuclear facilities when Syd Seiler arrived on the Korean Peninsula as a young U.S. military intelligence officer.
Over the four decades since, Seiler has watched closely as Kim, his son and now his grandson have clung to their nuclear program and developed the potential to lob nuclear warheads at the U.S. and its allies if they choose.
Now Seiler is freshly retired after decades of advising presidents, military commanders and diplomats, making reported secret trips to North Korea and serving as a lead negotiator on talks to contain its nuclear program. And he has a parting message to American leaders: Don't be discouraged.
North Korea's fiery rounds of missile test launches are no reason to give up on the international sanctions and pressure, or to simply accept that the ruling Kim family is now a nuclear-armed power, Seiler told The Associated Press this week.
“That's a failure of deterrence?” he asked, rhetorically. “That's nonsense. We're deterring an attack.”
Seiler helped shape the U.S. policy of deterrence, diplomacy and international pressure to deal with the nuclear threat. Following are some of his conclusions, drawing on his decades of experience before retiring this summer as the U.S. national intelligence officer for North…