Opinion: North Korea Is A Problem That Won't Go Away

Matt Lillywhite

Earlier today, North Korea test-fired several ballistic missiles. According to reports by the Associated Press, two mid-range ballistic missiles were fired from the North Korean coast, with the country calling it an “important” test for its spy satellite program. 

The news comes as the United States flew stealth bombers in a show of force against North Korea earlier this week. The U.S. has deployed B-52 bombers and F-22 fighter jets in the region for joint training exercises with South Korea. After all, the United States has agreed to protect South Korea by any means necessary, including nuclear weapons.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising. North Korea is launching one missile after another. And it’s widely accepted by military officials that some North Korean missiles can reach the United States.

Unfortunately, North Korea is a geopolitical problem that won’t go away. The country has a troublesome history of violating international agreements and has repeatedly engaged in provocative actions. For example, it launched missiles over Japan a few months ago. It has also expressed a willingness to attack AustraliaSouth Korea, and even the American mainland.

Almost everyone in the intelligence community says North Korea poses a threat. But the United States can’t invade or destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. At least, not without risking the possibility of a wider war in the region. After all, King Jong-Un might feel backed into a corner, and be compelled to use any remaining weapons (nuclear or not) against his enemies.

“They say that they’re going to retaliate with a nuclear strike if their command and control system and their state leadership is put under threat,” said Markus Garlauskas, a former U.S. National Intelligence Officer. “They can be justified in using nuclear weapons if they’ve come under a nuclear or non-nuclear attack on important strategic targets and even if such an attack is on the horizon. So they’re saying that they could use them preemptively.”

Other experts agree that preemptive strikes against North Korea to eliminate weapons of mass destruction would probably fail. “This would be nothing like Iraq,” said Michèle Flournoy, a former Pentagon official during the Obama administration. “It’s not that the North Korean military is so good. It’s that North Korea has nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction — and is now in a situation where they have real incentives to use them.” 

Vox reports that North Korea could decimate the South Korean capital in the opening hours of a hypothetical conflict. “The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service estimates that Kim could hammer the South Korean capital with an astonishing 10,000 rockets per minute — and that such a barrage could kill more than 300,000 South Koreans in the opening days of the conflict. That’s all without using a single nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon.”

To make things worse, North Korea won’t come to the negotiating table. Its leader, Kim Jong-Un, believes nuclear weapons protect him from assassination, per the BBC. “The lynching of the Libyan leader after he had renounced nuclear weapons and the hanging of the Iraqi president have been cited by the North Korean media as the rationale for their own country’s determination not to be put off by sanctions despite the poverty there.”

Ultimately, two visions for a new world order are at odds. Many countries in the G7 (including the U.S.) don’t want North Korea to be legitimized as a nuclear state. But on the other hand, North Korea is unwilling to give up its nuclear weapons. And thus, the country pursues a nuclear weapons program with a firm belief that they will ensure the Kim regime's survival

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Matt Lillywhite publishes national news and local stories. He can be reached via email at Mattlillywhitenewsbreak@gmail.com


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