The North Korean declarations brought me back to early September 1998, when, as a member of a negotiating team, I was sitting across the table from senior North Korean officials. Just a day or two earlier, the DPRK had launched a multi-stage missile that broke up over Japan. The North Koreans first denied the launch, then, a short time later, claimed that a satellite had been placed in orbit, broadcasting a message of greetings from their "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il. It was that same day, shortly after a reminder from our chief of delegation about all the food aid that we had provided and intended to provide to the starving North, that his DPRK counterpart took umbrage at a phrase or the tone of our delegation chief's line. Out of the mouth of the female North Korean translator, sitting directly across from me, came the harsh declaration, "We will turn you into a sea of fire!" None of us on our side of the table thought much of it at the time. We essentially laughed it off — we had heard it before, and we would hear it again. But, really, who talks like that, and at what point should they be taken seriously? Is it, perhaps, when they actually have nuclear bombs adapted to missile warheads and the missiles to deliver them?