Exploring ingenious options is crucial for Trump administration to counter North Korea
What happened so far?
- North Korea, in defiance of worldwide pressure, test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) a few days ago, that threatens to strike the US mainland.
- The missile reportedly reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles), its highest ever missile test.
- North Korean state media further claimed that the missile was capable of carrying a “large, heavy nuclear warhead” that could survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, however the claims has not been verified yet
- This has been by far most successful missile test since the inception of Pyongyang’s ballistic missile programme in the late 1990s.
What is an ICBM?
- An ICBM is a missile launched by a land-based launching system that is intended to carry nuclear payloads.
- The most noteworthy difference between an ICBM and other ballistic missiles is its greater range and speed, enabling countries to strike exceptionally distant targets without warning.
- To qualify as an ICBM, a missile must have a minimum range of 5,500km.
Implications of U.S-North Korea tension
- A preemptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities would almost certainly be met with immediate retaliation that could cause huge casualties in South Korea and possibly Japan.
Unhelpful China and Russia
- Russia and China have both teamed up to seize the perfect break to achieve a mutual objective of weakening the US military presence on their doorstep.
- Many senior officials of the Trump administration have consistently banked heavily on China which interestingly is North Korea’s most crucial political and economic ally, to rein in its missile programme.
- Both the nations firmly ruled out the use of force as an answer to the situation, Russia even appeared to rule out new sanctions, stating such attempts on North Korea economically were unacceptable.
- Trump had even offered China better trade deal for its help in addressing the crisis and appreciated President Xi Jinping’s effort, but all seems to be in vain
Harsh Policy towards North Korea
- sanctions and threats been effective as a strategy, Mr. Kim would not have carried out the ICBM test in the first place. Ever since he took power in 2012 he has steadily expanded North Korea’s missile programme; challenging the U.S. is central to his foreign policy doctrine.
- All these years the U.S. has stepped up sanctions and taken an incrementally harsher line towards the Kim regime.
No good options for US
- Though the administration has said all options are on the table,there remains a very few good options for US President Donald Trump to deal with the North Korean threat.
- Even a limited military strike would be dangerously risky, as any attack on north Korea would alarm and jeopardize both its ally, South Korea and Japan
- Trump invested heavily in China’s ability to use its diplomatic and economic clout to persuade North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programmes, but that approach has so far failed to pay dividends.
- Both Trump and Obama administration has repeatedly threatened to use force against the North in response to serious provocations, but are yet to specify what constitutes their “red line” and the form of military retaliation needed
- The North’s demand that it enter into bilateral talks with the US, with a view to winning security guarantees from Washington, appears highly fanciful given its missile tests and the rhetoric from the White House.
- The risk unleashing a larger conflict on the Korean Peninsula is something the US cannot afford to take. North Korea has a 1.2-million-member military, and Seoul, the South Korean capital, is just 35 miles from the demilitarized zone marking the border.
- Conventional weapons such as rockets, missiles and artillery could devastate South Korea even if the U.S. military destroyed North Korea’s nuclear sites.
- That leaves its major allies, both japan and South korea , 25 million South Koreans vulnerable, along with 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
- There is the history of the North freezing its nuclear programme for nearly a decade in 1994 after a deal with world powers, Washington should probably take a realistic view of the crisis rather than immediately opt for retaliatory and punitive measures.