North Korea’s threats won’t materialize

Though the media has been flooded with talk about the perceived nuclear threat of North Korea, it appears as if the United States and South Korea have little to worry about at this stage.

Yes, there have been some troubling reports. According to NPR, the North Korean military has successfully tested very small nuclear weapons on a few occasions. In addition, the regime of Kim Jong-un has also unsuccessfully tested long-range ballistic missiles — in the 2006 test, the missile blew up shortly after launching, according to The New York Times.

North Korea’s unsupported threats have sparked panic about a possible nuclear war. Since the long-range ballistic missiles don’t work, however, the regime cannot place the nuclear munitions inside of them — showing that North Korea has no way to launch nuclear weapons against South Korea, the United States or any other part of the world.

Combined with the fact that the United States and South Korean armies are far superior than that of North Korea, this so-called “war” would be ended swiftly. If there was a war, then United States-led military forces would easily sweep past the demilitarized zone and into North Korea in a matter of days, according to Foreign Affairs.

Though Kim might have a sizeable infantry force, he does not have modern tanks, artillery, aircraft or enough gasoline to fuel his war machines, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ website.

And in the event that the North Korean army actually attempts to launch a missile, the United States is ready to intercept any weapons aimed at Japanese, Korean or American targets, according to The New York Times.

Though Kim is undoubtedly delusional about his military might, he still appears to have a modicum of self-preservation. The United States and the world should seize upon this weakness — perhaps Kim could be granted some kind of safe haven — and use this opportunity to create sweeping reform in North Korea.

Yes, Kim and his regime are responsible for a serious humanitarian crisis within the country. By setting up concentration camps and starving the North Korean people, Kim and his cohorts have become war criminals. The global interests of justice and alleviating human suffering will better be served, however, if the surviving and starving people of North Korea can be freed from oppression through semi-peaceful means.

At this point, however, there is no use in fretting over a potential nuclear war. Even if Kim decides to take military action, South Korea has the United States and many other nations on its side. For now, countries need to continue peaceful discussions with the communist country, instead of pushing tensions closer to the breaking point.


Dan Morgan-Russell is a freshman majoring in international relations global business.

4 replies
  1. Observer
    Observer says:

    Odds are you are correct that North Korea will stand down, but Kim has already won the propaganda battle in his own country. He has to show strength and leadership to his sheeple, all the while playing the victim to the big bad West who “threatens” their existence. It is easy to dupe a huge population of hungry peasants who hear and see what Kim wants them to hear and see.

  2. Miguel
    Miguel says:

    You overlook the role of China. While the relationship between N Korea and Chima is not what it once was, China does not want an American influence on its border. China has yet to state what it’s response would be if war were to break out.

  3. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    As Foreign Affairs newsletter reader, you have been duped into believing some falsehoods. NK wouldn’t attack the South with their army. They csn easily detonate an airburst nuke causing an EMP pulse that would render electronics useless.

    They also have the backing of the Soviets and communist China.

    The US Air Force and Navy can take out the NK Air Force in <100 hrs, but NK has a significantly greater number of soldiers than South Korea and US combined. Their assault can be won due to sheer numbers of ground soldiers.

  4. Chris Robertson
    Chris Robertson says:

    You got some things wrong in this article… North Korea’s long range missiles are untested, but they do have mid range missiles that are proven to work and can reach South Korea.

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