The North Korean Threat

By Caroline Curtis

“[Kim Jong-Un] is radical, he is unpredictable, he is extreme, and he is getting more and more dangerous weapons,” Senator Ted Cruz stated Sunday, Sept. 3, in an interview with ABC News. That same day, North Korea released news that they had tested the most powerful nuclear bomb in North Korean history. This most recent test was located in Punggye-ri, North Korea, and was their sixth test under Jong-Un’s leadership. It was recorded as ten times more powerful than their tests last year.

NORSAR’s graph of the test’s effects. Photo credit: NORSAR.

NORSAR (Norwegian Seismic Array), a company responsible for the detection of earthquakes and nuclear explosions, estimated an explosive yield of 120 kilotons and claimed that the effects of this testing are eight times more powerful than the effects of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. However, South Korea claims the effects were not as powerful as NORSAR stated. Regardless, North Korea is growing more and more powerful and countries are beginning to notice.

Jong-Un, the nation’s young, unpredictable dictator, is persistent in the research of nuclear weapons and improving North Korea’s missile program. Many nations around the world are already coming together to find appropriate solutions to this threat. Almost immediately following the release of the testing results, the United States, Japan, France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council. On August 28th, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan; this created more tension between North Korea and countries around the world as fear began to build surrounding North Korea’s threat to the world.

One of President Trump’s tweets regarding North Korea. Image credit: Twitter.

North Korea’s testing adds to the building tension between North Korea and the United States. When asked if the United States will attack North Korea, President Trump responded, “We’ll see.” Following this comment, there was a White House briefing that afternoon where it was concluded that the United States is prepared to defend itself if necessary. Despite this, the Trump Administration has been scrutinized for not having a clear plan to deal with North Korea and Kim Jong-Un. So far, the Trump Administration has been practicing “peaceful pressure“, but President Trump’s twitter feed suggests otherwise. Several tweets from the President have been aggressive towards North Korea; these tweets suggest that the solution lies in force rather than negotiation. The president has considered cutting off trade with all of North Korea’s allies, including China. As China is the United State’s largest trading partner, ending these trades could prove destructive to the United States economy. Phillip Rucker of The Washington Post wrote, “In 2016, U.S. companies exported $169.3 billion in goods to China and China exported $478.9 billion in goods to the United States.”

Continued sanctions against North Korea may not be the answer; sanctions have been placed on the country repeatedly, but each time Kim Jong-Un has prevailed and developed weapons and nuclear programs to end the isolation that the sanctions aimed to create. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated, “We are going to work with our allies, we’ll work with China, but people need to cut off North Korea economically, this is unacceptable behavior.” The Trump Administration’s plan of action moving forward is unclear, but there are many options they are considering to handle the growing threat.

The United States is not the only country concerned of the growing threat presented by North Korea. South Korea, North Korea’s southern neighbor and ally of the United States, is most susceptible to danger of North Korean attacks. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the South Korean Republic is working with outside countries to “ensure maximum sanctions and pressures against North Korea’s continued provocations.” Both South Korea and the United States currently plan to use sanctions as a way to get North Korea to “come to the table for talks.” Another country at risk is Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agrees with the United States in that North Korea needs to be pressured to stop the “reckless” and hostile acts. Defense Secretary of the United States James Mattis stated that “the commitments between the allies are ironclad.” Therefore, if North Korea threatens one country, they will be met with the forces of many more, thus creating the potential for a world war. Although the motives of North Korea remain unclear for the rest of the world, it is now known that the country is a growing threat. 

Featured image via Reuters.

About the author

Caroline Curtis is a junior at Collegiate.