Before its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union had some 27,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled across the Republic and enough weapons grade plutonium and uranium to triple that number. When the USSR fell, nuclear experts faced a precarious dilemma - how to prevent these now "loose" nukes from falling into the hands of those who could use these materials to unleash nuclear disaster on the world?
Bill Perry and The Perry Project toured South Korea this past week to commemorate the release of the Korean translation of Perry's memoir, "My Journey at the Nuclear Brink".
His visit comes amidst international speculation as to what President-elect Trump's strategy will be for nuclear-armed North Korea - whether he will continue the US policy of sanctions in hopes that the economic pressure will lead North Korea to give up their nuclear arms or if he will seek to open dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Dr. Perry spent time reassuring those who were fearful that current political discord in both the United States and Korea could mean the end of democracy, instead insisting that democracy is messy and that it is critical that we utilize the power of our democratic systems to fix our problems.
Perry recommended opening gradual negotiations with North Korea to deal with the nuclear threats, insisting the isolated country is "rational enough" not to launch a nuclear attack on South Korea, Japan or the United States.
He suggested talks with Pyongyang should be based on the assumption that it has already been armed with atomic bombs.
"I still believe the agreements we negotiated would give us a very different and certain stable world than we have today,"
North Korea is not suicidal but rational, he said, adding that the international community should clearly understand what Pyongyang wants to do.
"They are rational enough not to use them on South Korea or Japan, but they might sell them or accidental explosion is what we should be worried about."
A series of North Korean nuclear and missile tests this year triggered tough international sanctions. Pyongyang claimed in early September to have conducted a nuclear warhead explosion test aimed at acquiring technology for the production of diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads to be carried by strategic missiles.
Watch his talk at Yonsei University in Seoul:
Current nuclear policy is not working. Fmr Secretary of Defense William J. Perry joins some of the best thinkers in the nuclear field in recommending fresh ideas for incoming President-elect Trump to consider as he formulates his nuclear policy in the new report by Ploughshares Fund: 10 Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President