Concern over North Korea’s ability to strike the United States with a thermonuclear weapon has been tepid at best, due to our previous understanding of the nation’s technological advances. That has changed drastically over the course of the last few days.
Kim Jong Un and the North Koreans have successfully tested what is believed to be their first intercontinental ballistic missile, putting to rest the doubt that they could strike the United States directly. It comes as no surprise that Kim, who has a penchant for symbolism, would test said missile in conjunction with the American 4th of July holiday either. If nothing else, the North Koreans are very adept at sending a message to the U.S., who they believe are their mortal enemies.
Not only is the range of the tested missile alarming, but experts now believe that the device was more than capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. This is a seriously disturbing development given the insane rhetoric of the North Korean government.
“A spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department said it had concluded that North Korea on Tuesday test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the test, on the eve of the U.S. Independence Day holiday, represented ‘a new escalation of the threat’ to the United States and its allies, and vowed to take stronger measures.
“The U.N. Security Council, currently chaired by China, will hold an emergency meeting on North Korea at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, requested by the United States, Japan and South Korea.
“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test completed his country’s strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.
“Pyongyang will not negotiate with the United States to give up those weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against the North, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.”
Kim Jong Un’s latest stunt could very well cost him his country, should the United States decide to take action. Of course, the delicate situation on the Korean Peninsula has delayed any international action.
North Korea is strategically located well within striking distance of several U.S. allies, including South Korea and Japan. Any military action by the U.S. that was less than total would create an extremely precarious situation for these friendly nations. Furthermore, both China and Russia have vested interests in North Korean trade, and will likely complicate any chance to throw diplomacy to the side in favor of military action.