U.S., N. Korea Drifting Toward War, Perry Warns Former Defense Secretary Says Standoff Increases Risk of Terrorists Obtaining Nuclear Device By Thomas E. Ricks and Glenn Kessler Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, July 15, 2003; Page A14 Former defense secretary William Perry warned that the United States and North Korea are drifting toward war, perhaps as early as this year, in an increasingly dangerous standoff that also could result in terrorists being able to purchase a North Korean nuclear device and plant it in a U.S. city. "I think we are losing control" of the situation, said Perry, who believes North Korea soon will have enough nuclear warheads to begin exploding them in tests and exporting them to terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. "The nuclear program now underway in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities," he said in an interview. Perry added that he reached his conclusions after extensive conversations with senior Bush administration officials, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and senior officials in China. After weeks of debate, President Bush and his senior foreign policy advisers this week are expected to meet to resolve the administration's next step in the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programs. Officials have discussed how sharply to ratchet up the pressure, and how to react to a series of possible North Korean provocations, including nuclear tests. Perry is the most prominent member of a growing number of national security experts and Korea specialists who are expressing deep concern about the direction of U.S. policy toward Pyongyang. As President Bill Clinton's defense secretary, he oversaw preparation for airstrikes on North Korean nuclear facilities in 1994, an attack that was never carried out. He has remained deeply involved in Korean policy issues and is widely respected in national security circles, especially among senior military officers. They credit him with playing a key role in developing the U.S. high-tech arsenal of cruise missiles and stealth aircraft and also with righting the Pentagon after the short, turbulent term of Les Aspin, Clinton's first defense chief. Only last winter Perry publicly argued that the North Korea problem was controllable. Now, he said, he has grown to doubt that. "It was manageable six months ago if we did the right things," he said. "But we haven't done the right things."