State of war

State of war
North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA has said that the country was “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam..

North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA has said that the country was “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam (USA).”

The plans were made public after US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea that they would be met with “fire and fury” if tensions between the two nations persisted.

Background

From July 2017, the ties between the US and North Korea have considerably deteriorated.  North Korea successfully conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile launch (ICBM) twice during this period. Experts note that the first one could reach Alaska and the second one could reach a number of major cities in the US like Boston. The state media called the first launch a “gift” for America. The second launch was termed a “stern warning.”

US has condemned the tests and has conducted joint military exercises with South Korea in retaliation. The UN Security Council unanimously imposed fresh sanctions on the country. These sanctions could cut North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned about the possibility of war with North Korea.

Analysis

The US President spoke reporters while on a vacation at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He said that the US was prepared to meet North Korea’s threats with military might. He noted, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”

Senior lawmakers in the US have criticized Trump for his rhetoric. Republican senator John McCain commented, “I don’t know what he’s saying and I’ve long ago given up trying to interpret what he says. That kind of rhetoric, I’m not sure how it helps.”

Amidst talk of escalation, KCNA news agency reported that North Korea was looking to attack Guam (a US island territory) using its domestically made medium-to-long-range Hwasong-12 missiles. The island is a strategic US military outpost that hosts nuclear bombers and about 6,000 US service members. Guam’s Homeland Security has downplayed the threat noting there was no imminent threat to the island. However, US strategic B-1B bombers have arrived on Guam from the mainland.

US media has reported that North Korea now has a missile-ready nuclear warhead. According to Washington Post, the region now has enough fissile material for 60 nuclear warheads.

Polls have shown that public support for President Trump is dwindling. A recent CNN poll out showed that 56% of Americans disapprove the job done by Trump as President. A CBS poll revealed that 72% of Americans feel uneasy about how Trump has handled the situation in North Korea.  Only 26% of surveyed Americans said that they were "confident things will be resolved without conflict."

Assessment

Our assessment is that with two strong populist leaders heading both nations, one untested, it is possible that the Korean peninsula could be witness to another war. Trump and Kim Jong Un have continued with their war of words and de-escalation seems unlikely any time soon. With Trump’s popularity at an all-time low for a US President, his response will be more to boost up his image than abide by the principles of real politic. 

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