The North Korean crisis is becoming more ominous every day. Former American presidents should have recognized the risks at a much earlier stage and acted decisively as Kim Jung-un and his predecessors developed nuclear weapons. Now it’s all on Trump.
The question many Americans have on their minds is: Does the maniacal leader of NOKO really have the ability to attach a nuclear warhead atop an intercontinental missile, hit a target 100 to 7,000 miles away and cause it to explode on cue? If so, the world is in really great peril.
On Monday the New York Times had several articles relating to this situation. It discussed the possible objectives of Kim and the options available to rein him in. The situation is very complex, so, hopefully, this essay will bring some clarity to this conundrum.
NOKO has proven that it developed a nuclear bomb with destructive power at least equal to the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the conclusion of World War II.
The Times indicated that the power of NOKO’s bombs may be up to 1,000 times greater if in fact the North Koreans have mastered the technology to produce a hydrogen bomb. The tests conducted by NOKO a few days ago have convinced some analysts that NOKO’s bombs are becoming more powerful in each successive test. A bomb equal to the ones dropped on Japan is sufficient to devastate South Korea, Japan, Guam, Hawaii or the continental U.S.
Most analysts are skeptical that NOKO could launch a missile and make it land on a precise target. But remember, a nuclear device need not be that accurate because of its devastating and far-reaching impact.
The major players attempting to deal with the crisis are the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea. What military and diplomatic options are currently available?
The U.S. could launch a conventional invasion and attempt to destroy NOKO’s government and all of its military assets including its nuclear weapons. NOKU has a standing army of about a million soldiers, significant artillery on its border with South Korea and any number of nuclear weapons hidden throughout the country and on mobile missile launchers.
The odds of obliterating the nukes before they are launched would be challenging. More likely NOKO would retaliate with an attack on South Korea, Japan and the U.S. before being annihilated by the U.S.
A related option would be for the U.S. to attack using nuclear weapons. This could possibly prevent any counter measures by NOKO, but millions of innocent people would be killed. The preemptive use of nukes would certainly fly in the face of moral and civilized behavior, but it may be the only way to insure NOKO is unable to unleash its nuclear capabilities.
Almost everyone favors continued diplomatic efforts. The problem is that it is unclear what Kim would want to stand down from his aggressive behavior. Most believe that Kim will not give up his nukes under any circumstances because they give him the status to stand up to greater world powers.
In this regard Kim may intend to use his nuclear strength to create great economic gains for his country, or possibly the reunification of Korea to be lead by NOKO. The latter would be a non-starter for the U.S. and certainly for South Korea.
In any case a nuclear capability gives Kim a strong seat at the negotiating table, so any effort to dismantle his nuclear program is probably not negotiable.
Donald Trump continues to lean on China to put pressure on NOKO. Kim believes that his nuclear arsenal enables him to make gains even without support of his most important ally. This is true only to a certain extent.
Considering that China has agreed to greater sanctions against NOKO in recent days, it appears that Beijing is losing patience with the Korean despot. Much greater sanctions are at China’s disposal. It provides almost all of NOKO’s oil and could halt deliveries unless NOKO responds favorably to a negotiated peace process. Whether China will demand an end to the NOKO nuclear program or just a cessation of hostilities is unclear. But, without oil, NOKO would experience significant hardship in a short period of time.
Recent comments by the Trump administration relating to NOKO against China and South Korea are making the situation even more complicated. China has supported NOKO because it is a buffer to the west-leaning South Korea. Unification of Korea, led by South Korea, would effectively result in a democratic nation at China’s doorstep. The Chinese need to decide whether this option is worse than having a nut case wielding nuclear weapons in such close proximity.
Trump believes that economic actions against China and South Korea will disrupt the former’s paternalistic attitude towards NOKO, and the latter’s fruitless efforts to deal with the situation diplomatically. It remains to be seen whether this ploy by Trump will succeed.
Americans, Chinese and Japanese better be concerned about the NOKO megalomaniac and his nuclear toys. He seems poised to kill several million people by pushing a missile launch button.