Reining in Kim Jong-un
The North Korean regime’s blatant disregard for international law is a worrying sign
A few days after the North Koreans lobbed a missile over Japan, US President Donald Trump tweeted that America would not give in to North Korean blackmail. The North Korean regime has even said that they will attack the US Pacific island territory of Guam. Of course, the North Koreans fantasize about attacking the mainland United States, but despite rapid and frankly mysterious advances in their missile technology, the country has not managed to develop a reliable long-range intercontinental missile. But Guam is well within range for the country’s well-tested medium-range missiles such as the one that overflew Japan. There is no doubt that an attack on any US territory in the Pacific by North Korea will be met with fury and hellfire by the United States. Even if the Americans manage to shoot down any or all attacking missiles, thanks to their advanced missile shield, North Korea will almost certainly be obliterated by the United States. But at what price? The thriving South Korean capital of Seoul is just across the demilitarised zone (DMZ) on the Korean peninsula and is home to 10 million people, a fifth of South Korea’s population well within range of heavy artillery from North Korea. Drills being conducted by the South Koreans and their American allies have used advanced weaponry to try and take out North Korea’s nuclear stockpile, but it is inevitable that if war does break out in the Korean peninsula again, Kim Jong-Un will use a nuclear weapon. Previous American administrations have wrung their hands with how to deal with the Kim’s in the ostensibly communist state.
The Kim dynasty has been propped up by North Korea’s only ally and northern neighbour, China. While Chinese foreign policy has been to keep the United States preoccupied with North Korea while they go about their land grab across the region, they are the last country that would want a war. Millions of refugees would stream into China and the north-eastern corner of China could well be badly impacted by a nuclear fallout and if the North Korean regime falls, China would have an United States ally at its doorstep along with huge amounts of American weaponry. China’s unease at the deployment of the US THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea which can easily monitor Chinese airspace as can the US AEGIS system reflects its growing concern. And the situation is not helped by an outwardly temperamental President Donald Trump whose tweets while not indicative of US foreign policy have ratcheted up the tension considerably. It would be in everyone’s interest if the situation is defused, that would take maturity from Trump and Kim but that might be asking for too much.
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