In the recent months, both the US and North Korea have increasingly broached the possibility of war, especially nuclear war. In a televised address for New Year’s Eve, North Korean head, Kim Jong Un said that the nuclear option was always on his “desk.”
North Korea has remained an isolated nation for decades. Its nuclear program has especially been a concern for the international community. In 2017, North Korea has launched 23 missiles in the span of 16 tests. It has increased its military activity since July of 2017 when it test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). In August 2017, North Korea flew two missiles over Japan. The nation called it the “first step” in its Pacific operations. In September 2017, the nation has conducted its sixth nuclear test to date.
The UN has imposed harsh sanctions on North Korea in retaliation. The resolution targets North Korea's primary exports and could significantly cut into the country’s annual export revenue. Additionally, Nikki Haley the US ambassador to the United Nations has warned that the US is ready to take military action.
The relationship between the US and North Korea has always been fractious. During the war between North and South Korea in 1950, US forces successfully intervened on behalf of South Korea. To this day, there are 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in South Korea as part of United States Forces Korea (USFK).
In 2017, US and South Korea conducted multiple military drills and exercises in response to North Korea’s actions. There has also been increased heated rhetoric between North Korea and the US as the leaders from both nations have locked in a war of words.
In the recent months, both the US and North Korea have increasingly broached the possibility of war, especially nuclear war. In a televised address for New Year’s Eve, North Korean head, Kim Jong Un said that the nuclear option was always on his “desk.” He noted that the nuclear weapon was the only deterrent preventing the United States from engaging in an all-out assault.
“It’s reality, not a threat, that the nuclear button is always on my desk,” Kim said in a televised New Year address on Monday. “The U.S. can never start a war against myself and our nation now.”
Meanwhile, the international community has continued to put economic pressure on North Korea through the imposition of sanctions. In December 2017, UN security council unanimously approved tough new sanctions on North Korea. This was in response to its latest launch of a ballistic missile. These sanctions will reduce the nation's petrol imports by up to 90%. South Korea has revealed it seized a Hong Kong-registered ship recently as it was suspected of supplying oil to the North. This would be a breach of the international sanctions.
The ship is reported to have entered Yeosu port in South Korea on 11 October to load up with refined oil and left for Taiwan four days later. This oil was then to a North Korean ship and three other vessels in international waters on 19th October 2017. The Chinese government has denied any involvement in the reported events. It said the accusations against it were "not consistent with the facts".
Amid fears of war, religious leaders have also begun preaching the values of peace. Pope Francis requested a card depicting the horrors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima nuclear bombing to be printed as a warning against war. This card has been printed and distributed with the inscription – Fruits of war. It is a photograph of two young children dealing with the devastating consequences of the nuclear attack. The older boy is standing in a line at the crematorium while also carrying his dead brother on his back. “The young boy’s sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips, which are oozing blood,” the inscription on the Pope’s card says.
Our assessment is that a nuclear war between America and North Korea will have a devastating effect on the lives of millions living in the Korean peninsula. All parties must vigorously push for diplomatic dialogue in a bid to de-escalate the threat of military conflict. As we have experienced before, the fruits of war is the destruction of millions of lives.