Brink of nuclear war

Brink of nuclear war
North Korea has accused the US of bringing the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war. It has vowed to make the US “pay dearly for all the heinous crimes” it has supposedly..

North Korea has accused the US of bringing the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.

It has vowed to make the US “pay dearly for all the heinous crimes” it has supposedly committed against North Korea. 

Background

North Korea views the United States as its greatest threat. The distrust is mutual as former US President George W Bush once referred to North Korea as part of the “Axis of Evil.”

The North Korean nuclear program has been a source of concern for the US and the international community for years. North Korea has conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 (atomic bombs) and twice in 2016 (reportedly hydrogen bomb).

In July 2017, North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The state media announced that the first ICBM, which was launched on July 3rd, was a “gift” to America. At the time, experts said that this ICBM could reach Alaska. The second one can reportedly reach a number of cities in the US including Boston and New York. US has responded by condemning the tests and carrying out joint military exercises along with South Korea. Many top officials from the US, including Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to UN, have said that the country would not rule out a military conflict if a resolution is not reached.

Analysis

After North Korea test launched a second ICBM, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed fresh sanctions on the country. These sanctions could significantly hurt North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho attended the ASEAN Regional Forum recently where he argued that Pyongyang's "possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles is a legitimate option for self-defense in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the US." He also added that North Korea will never “put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table.”

North Korea has warned the US through the state-run news agency called KCNA. It accused the US of driving the region to the brink of nuclear war adding, “(North Korea) will make the US pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.”

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson who also attended ASEAN has urged North Korea to consider dialogue. He said, “We hope again that this ultimately will result in North Korea coming to a conclusion to choose a different pathway, and when the conditions are right that we can sit and have a dialogue around the future of North Korea so that they feel secure and prosper economically.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that if North Korea does not agree to the terms set forth by the international community, then the Korean peninsula could become the theatre for war. It is interesting to note that China, the strongest ally of North Korea along with Russia has supported the sanctions. Perhaps China is losing its handle on North Korea, who now believes that it can get the best deal from the US if it conducts the negotiations directly. A war in the Korean peninsula is unlikely at this moment. 

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