North Korean Nuclear Missile Crisis

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The issue of North Korea having nuclear weapons is a very complicated issue that consists of many states and must be dealt with the right way in order to avoid nuclear war. In the past couple of years tensions between the United States and North Korea have been extremely high with many threats from both leaders and nuclear missile tests from North Korea. These nuclear tests served as warnings to the United states that North Korea is a viable threat and should be feared. With their missiles being capable of striking the U.S. territory of Guam and possibly California, North Korea is a threat that needs to be taken care of in the most peaceful way possible in order to prevent nuclear war. In efforts to stop this conflict, it is very important to understand what North Korea is using their nuclear weapons for and what they want. The United States especially has to understand North Korea’s goals in order to succeed in their goal of denuclearization and peace. While currently tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are down, it does not mean it will stay this way. Solutions to this problem are very complicated because there are many states at play and their security is threatened as well by North Korea as the United States is not the only country at risk of a nuclear attack. Every move must be right in order to maintain standing relationships with other nations and maintain their safety and security as well. There are many angles and many challenges that the U.S. has to consider before any solutions are acted upon in order to create peace and security.

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Currently, the tensions between the United States and North Korea surrounding nuclear weapons have cooled down immensely from the extremely heated situation of this past year. With a decrease in media propaganda and less insults and threats shared between the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the United States president Donald trump, it seems as though relations are improving. Earlier this year after the winter Olympics, it was announced that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had invited U.S. president Donald Trump to meet about North Korea’s nuclear program. Then in April North Korea announced that they would suspend nuclear testing and shut down their site due to CIA director Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Kim. Eventually the two leaders met this past summer and discussed denuclearization with incentives of removing international sanctions which was a huge step because it was the first time in history that a North Korean leader and United States president have ever met. According to both leaders, the meeting went very well and anticipated a brand new and better relationship. While the two leaders have yet to meet since their meeting this past summer, Mike Pompeo has travelled to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang four times in efforts to progress the relationship and commitments made by North Korea. At the meeting between Pompeo and Kim Jong-Un this past fall, an agreement was made to allow inspectors into the key nuclear testing site of Punggye-ri in which they claimed to have blown up already. By allowing inspectors into their key nuclear test site exhibits a positive sign of trust that has not been shown by North Korea in the past. Pompeo and Kim also discussed a second meeting between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un. This second summit has no date or time, but North Korean officials who dined with members of Mr. Pompeo’s entourage had suggested that it would be a very positive step if President Trump were to visit Kim in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. (Sang-Hun, Sanger)

While relations between North Korea and the United States seem to be improving, relations between Japan and North Korea are deteriorating. North Korean media has made Japan their main target of vilification and is reminding citizens of their suffering under Japanese rule before World War II (Denyer). When tensions were high with the United States, North Korea used media propaganda to remind viewers of the atrocities committed by the United States during the Korean war and now that tensions have cooled down, Japan has become the scapegoat for their own repressive rule (Denyer).

Relationships with South Korea on the other hand have greatly improved with evidence that could be seen at the Winter Olympics of this year. The two Korean states marched under the same flag during the opening ceremony and it was later also announced that there would be a summit between the two states in April. This summit created the Panmunjom Declaration which included both states pledging to forge closer relationships and working to end the Korean War formally. The two states eventually met at a three-day summit in September in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. At this summit North Korea pledged to break ground on a railroad that would connect North and South Korea within the next year, remove eleven guard posts that were in the demilitarized zone, and stop military drills aimed at each other along the demarcation line. These summits and meetings between North and South Korean leaders is another huge step towards denuclearization and healthier relationships with previous enemies.

The situation with China and North Korea is based solely on economical relationships and gain as the trade war with the U.S has pushed China towards the side of North Korea. As the U.S. pushes for full denuclearization of North Korea, China and Moscow expressed their support for a more gradual resolution for denuclearization. A more gradual resolution would give North Korea more bargaining power in talks with the United States, and would be in China and Russia’s best interest as well in order to remove sanctions. (Jeong-Ho) China is North Korea’s most valuable trading partner and helps sustain Kim Jong Un’s regime by being their main source of food and energy (Albert). China is most certainly an advocate for denuclearization, but believe there is a more gradual way of working out this issue. China wants a resolve to this issue because a nuclear war between North Korea and the United States would leave North Korea utterly destroyed, leaving China without an important trading partner.

While the situation is currently looking better than it has in previous years, there is still much work to be done in order to solve this issue and an important step in solving this is to recognize each country’s goals and the challenges that come along with them. For many years it was argued that North Korea is only using their nuclear weapons as bargaining chips that could be used to negotiate and trade for aid and security. (Revere) As we know today, North Korea’s build-up of nuclear weapons is not used for trade, but simply for survival and to deter the United States in order to replace the Korean War armistice and remove the U.S. threat. This means removing the alliance with South Korea, taking American troops out of South Korea and the U.S. nuclear umbrella (Revere). North Korea believes that since they have nuclear weapons, the U.S. has no other choice than to negotiate with them as they are a viable threat to homeland security. North Korea’s ultimate goal is the reunification of the Korean peninsula on their own terms and they believe that the only way to do that is by the threat of a nuclear attack (Revere). North Korea believes that by threatening the use of their nuclear weapons they can achieve their goals, but there are many challenges and problems with these goals.

One, for instance, is the second-strike capability of the United States. If hypothetically North Korea had hit the United States with a nuclear missile, the damage on the United States side would be horrible, but the damage on the North Korean side would be catastrophic. The United States military has the capability to destroy the entire state of North Korea which would ultimately destroy their goals. The challenge North Korea faces is how hard they should push the United States in order to avoid utter destruction of their regime. Another factor that ties into this challenge is; how long can they push the United States until the threat becomes so large that a preemptive strike is a possibility. The other challenge and main challenge of their goal is that the United States wants full denuclearization but North Korea needs their nuclear arsenal in order to reunify their own peninsula. This creates a standstill which makes it difficult for North Korea and the United States to achieve their goals. As said above, the goal of the United States in this crisis is simply to denuclearize North Korea, but the challenge to this goal is that it seems as though North Korea will never fully denuclearize unless the United States does the same. This is where the many possible solutions come into play and there are many.

One potential solution is military action, in which the United States and their ally South Korea destroy known North Korean military bases and nuclear facilities. If successful, the North Korean military would be heavily damaged and incapable of unleashing a powerful counter attack. If unsuccessful, North Korea could severely damage South Korea and even inflict damage upon Japan and The United States. This is by far the most dangerous and risky approach at solving the nuclear crisis and it could not only potentially hurt the United States in the physical sense, but it could also ruin their relationship with China who is one of the United States’ main trading partners (Revere). Currently, this solution would be the most implausible as relations between the United States and North Korea seem to be improving. This does not mean that it can be ruled out in the future as North Korea is still very dangerous and untrustworthy, but as of now it is unlikely. Another potential solution, which seems to be in progress currently, is to negotiate and continue talks of denuclearization. Continuing meetings between the two leaders will help to strengthen their relationship and eventually find a common ground between the two states. Now that relations between South Korea and North Korea have improved, and talks of officially ending the Korean war are in the works, peace between the three states is not implausible.

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North Korean Nuclear Missile Crisis. (2019, Dec 11). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from
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