North Korea has threatened an all-out nuclear war if the US ever imposes a maritime blockade on the region.
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).
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.
In November 2017, North Korea after nearly two months of silence, tested its most potent missile yet. The Hwasong-15 missile reached an unprecedented height of almost 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles). The Hwasong-15 is a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile. This represents a serious escalation in the stability of the Korean peninsula.
Since then, US and South Korea have conducted military drills. In addition, U.S. and Chinese generals engaged in an unusual set of security talks.
North Korea has stated that the latest drills conducted by South Korea and the US and the constant threats from the US has made war inevitable. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry blamed the drills and “confrontational warmongering” by U.S. officials for making war inevitable. “The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?” it said in a statement. “We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it.”
In the recent weeks, there have been reports of a possible maritime blockade on North Korea as initiated by the US. North Korea has now spoken out that any such imposition of a blockade would result in a nuclear confrontation.
"The gang of Trump … is driving the situation on the Korean Peninsula more and more close to the brink of war, acting recklessly without any sense of reason," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a Thursday report. It added, “A naval blockade is an act of wanton violation of the sovereignty and dignity of an independent state, and an act of war of aggression which cannot be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, certain US lawmakers have begun speaking out about the possibility of a war. US Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican), recent said that if North Korea were to ever test another nuclear bomb (its seventh) then the possibility of war would increase to 70%. He said, “I would say there’s a three in 10 chance we use the military option.” If the North Koreans conduct an additional test of a nuclear bomb—their seventh—“I would say 70 percent.” He added, “War with North Korea is an all-out war against the regime. There is no surgical strike option. Their [nuclear-weapons] program is too redundant, it’s too hardened, and you have got to assume the worst, not the best. So, if you ever use the military option, it’s not to just neutralize their nuclear facilities—you have got to be willing to take the regime completely down.”
Recently, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov revealed that North Korea is open to engage in open discussions with the US. He has passed on the information to his US counterpart, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
Our assessment is that the Korean peninsula seems to be at the precipice of war. There have been reports that an increased number of the so-called Beltway lawmakers in the US have begun considering war as a true option when it comes to countering North Korea. If the nation conducts another nuclear test, then it would increase the possibility of a military conflict exponentially. It is likely that Russia and China might yet broker a diplomatic dialogue between the two nations but the possibility of that continues to diminish.