5 Things to Know About North Korea and its Nuclear Threats

August 12, 2017

Ever since Kim Jong-Un, the current leader of North Korea, took over power from his father, the late Kill Il-Sung in 2011, he has put a lot of efforts into building up his nuclear capability. And now it seems he has the ability to strike other nations with nuclear-armed ICBM’s  The increased number of missile tests, the heated rhetoric against the U.S. and the evidence that Kim Jong-Un has viable nuclear weapons has reached a fever pitch and has put many people on edge. As the world waits to see how this most recent conflict will play out, here are a few things you need to know about the situation:

  1. Why does North Korea want nuclear weapons? Most likely as a deterrent against other nations – specifically the U.S. – from being able to remove Kim Jong-Un from power. While the average North Korean may not be able to watch cable TV, Chairman Kim is well aware of what happened to other dictators, such as Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) – who gave up their weapons of mass destruction. (P.S. Those guys are dead now and their former countries are a mess.) Kim figures that possessing nuclear weapons will make others think twice before messing with him.
  1. How does U.S. President Donald Trump feel about North Korea possessing nuclear weapons? Trump, like all presidents before him, view North Korea as a rogue nation – dangerous to the global community. The refrain has always been, “we will not allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons.” OK, so, that didn’t work out. And years of diplomacy and giving North Korea billions of dollars in aid hasn’t helped or changed anything. Trump has made his position loud and clear – don’t mess with America or any of its allies or territories or fire and furry will reign down on North Korea in a way that will not soon be forgotten.
  1. Can North Korea really reach the U.S. with nuclear weapons? According to intelligence reports, North Korea has developed a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile. While it is believed that these missiles could reach the U.S, how well these missiles can be launched, controlled and tolerate reentry is debatable. But places like South Korea and Japan, two U.S. allies, are definitely at risk. And apparently, North Korea is threatening the U.S. territory of Guam (like little Guam has ever done anything to anyone…). But one has the feeling that we don’t REALLY know the extent of what North Korea could do. (Or the fall out of a poorly executed, but still nuclear strike or the effects of an electromagnetic pulse)  And while Russia and China are tacitly supporting new sanctions against North Korea, both countries have an interest in keeping the US from dominating the Korean Peninsula. (And I don’t even have time to discuss the inevitable sharing of nuclear information between North Korea and Iran…thank you Obama for both of those gifts.)
  1. Will the U.S. carry out a preemptive strike against North Korea? It’s a bit too late for this – Trump has inherited a very sticky situation. (It has been reported that the Obama Administration knew North Korea had miniaturized nukes as far back as 2013 and did nothing about it.)  North Korea’s nuclear weapons are scattered all over the country – and they have tons of conventional weapons trained on Seoul, South Korea, just 30 miles south of the border. Any preemptive strike, at this point, is going to be messy. According to the New York Times, even a “surgical strike” will end with countless casualties.  And to make matters ever messier – China has stated that it will remain neutral if North Korea makes the first move, but if the U.S. makes the first move, China will side with North Korea. Which sounds an awful lot like a big nuclear war waiting to happen. But then again, when dining at the restaurant of  “International Crazy People,” we always seem to choose diplomacy – the default “special of the day.” Sometime you’re in the mood for something a little different – and maybe this time, we’ll “go off menu” and take care of a few things.
  1. Will diplomacy work? There are reports that quiet efforts of back-channel diplomacy  are underway between the U.S. and North Korea. Some say there is some progress, in spite of the fevered rhetoric. But it’s important to remember that 20 years of diplomacy have brought us to where we are today- a North Korea armed, dangerous and hostile towards America. And it’s also important to understand that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons regardless of any amount of diplomacy. So, diplomacy may or may not put a lid on the current crisis, but it is unlikely to solve the primary problem – North Korea possessing nuclear weapons. So, are you prepared to live in a world with a nuclear-armed North Korea? Maybe it’s time to invest in bomb shelters and one of those freeze-dried food contraptions.

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