North Korea has always been notorious for its aggressive nuclear deterrence, and due to its unwillingness to cooperate with the West, it has been sanctioned on multiple fronts.
In a recently-issued joint statement by the U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs, they warned North Korea and demanded that Pyongyang terminate all nuclear activities before adding that they will not tolerate any kind of military activity by Kim Jong-un. Furthermore, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo, showed concerns about Pyongyang’s latest long range missile program, which is said to have the the capability to carry nukes, and they added that North Korea poses a grave threat to the peace and stability of the region.
“North Korea is an up close, dangerous and continuing threat to the security of the peninsula and the region, any North Korean aggression or military provocation will not be tolerated.”
North Korea’s+ aggressive policies showing no signs of ending
Carter, while speaking to the media, referred to a North Korean attack on South Korea Naval ships in 2010 and expressed that to avoid such kinds of activities, the whole world needs to condemn Kim’s aggressive policies on every platform. However, Pyongyang has rejected the claims made during the joint statement and has categorically denied any kind of role in the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy ship.
Moreover, the North Korean spokesperson disagrees with Carter and Han and said that what they are calling a long range missile program is actually a rocket which will be used to propel satellites into orbit. Even though it is clear that Pyongyang’s space program is merely a cloak to hide the arms race, it is hell-bent on taking it to the next level.
Furthermore, in a recent meeting in Seoul, Carter and Han analyzed the growing tensions in the Demilitarized Zone and agreed to diffuse the situation before it escalates into an all-out war in the future. The two ministers also decided to enhance collaboration in cyberspace and space programs to take precautionary measures against any kind of aggression by Pyongyang. They also agreed to transfer the operational command to the combined forces in case South Korea is attacked by North Korea.
United States keen to keep North and South apart
On the other hand, the United States has constantly maintained 28,500 soldiers at the DMZ border to diffuse any kind of aggression from both sides. Moreover, the UN will help Seoul to improve its defense capabilities by upgrading its surveillance, reconnaissance capabilities and intelligence capabilities and to be able to shield itself from artillery attacks.
Carter’s visit to Seoul was a direct warning to Kim, a message to immediately cease aggressive polices and to shut down the new long-range missile program. Following the Seoul visit, the U.S. defense secretary is expected to meet the Southeast Asian defense ministers in Malaysia to further discuss the situation of the Korean Peninsula, and it is also expected that Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanqua will join them in this meeting.
North Korea ready for war?
According to its 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, The Heritage Foundation claims that Pyongyang boasts a range of ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting both the U.S. mainland and American interests throughout the Pacific. The same report also points out that after successfully putting a satellite into orbit, North Korea can use the same technology that launches satellites to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Moreover, the fact that Kim Jong-un has shown no inclination of resuming North Korea’s Six-Party Talks and that he has chosen to stay stone-faced in response to international calls for the cessation of the aggressive nuclear policies he has inherited form his late father, just go to show that Washington can ill afford to ignore the threat the Hermit Kingdom poses to American interests in Asia.
Earlier this year, General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, testified that North Koreans are on course to acquiring miniaturized nuclear warheads. “They have stated that they had had intercontinental missiles and they had a nuclear capability, and they paraded it. As a commander, I think, we must assume that they have that capability.”
Moreover, the unpredictable nature of North Korea means that as long as it does not become transparent in its dealings with the rest of the world, starting with its neighbors, it will always be treated as a threat, and the fact that the regime continues its relentless pursuit of acquiring nuclear supremacy at the expense of its own people clearly shows that the path to stability for the rogue nation is a long and difficult one, to say the least.