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North Korea – The Nuclear Uprising

North Korea – a tiny, often-ostracized nation, bordered on three sides by socialist giant Russia, rising superpower China, and technological utopia South Korea – has seen more debate and ridicule than most nations. With leaders like Kim Jong Un, who profess godly powers, political and economic exclusion, the small nation stirs our imagination. The state has no free media, and foreign correspondents are allowed to capture a very limited spectrum of the truth. But pores of tyranny, poverty, and widespread drought have still reached our ears. In a country of illiterate simpletons, where ignorant leaders like Kim rule supreme, has plunged the nation into a perpetually dark epoch.

In September 2017, a tremor was felt in northern China, which was later attributed to a detonation in North Korea, 400 kilometres away. With its sixth nuclear test, Kim had propelled the hermit nation into international news yet again, for all the wrong reasons. North Korea has tested its first hydrogen bomb, with a yield of 100 kilotons. The bomb was first detected as a 6.3 magnitude earthquake 23 kilometres deep inside the crust. The bomb is just a hint of the country’s nuclear prowess. With an estimated arsenal of 60 nuclear warheads, missiles with ranges of 4000 kilometres to 13000 kilometres, the entire globe is essentially under its radar. While head honchos across the world shuffled in trepidation, Kim literally shook the earth beneath their feet.

The possession of nuclear weapons in the balmy hands of a fickle person like Kim has instilled a grudging respect in leaders across the world. All but the legendary POTUS, Donald Trump. He went on a rant at the recent UN assembly, calling Kim a “rocket man on a suicide mission”. He threatened to bring down North Korea with “fire and fury”. Kim took the bait and responded with his own barrage of verbal abuses, calling Trump a “mentally deranged dotard”. His threats to annihilate the US offshore territory of Guam further intensified the matter. It is this casual volley of a weapon that can potentially crumble half the world that already adds to an already treacherous situation. The world has learnt to live with Trump’s irrational rantings. But the presence of a thermonuclear trigger in the background is puncturing the illusion that Trump’s bark is louder than his bite. Dr. Bermant, a security analyst, said that attacking Kim personally will only push the reclusive state into a corner, forcing Kim to assume a tougher stance. He also added that Trump may feel the imminent need to make good on his publicized threats. Trump’s refusal to take military intervention off the table has pushed any hope of a diplomatic resolution to the back-burner.

Trump’s quest to steadfastly isolate North Korea from external sources of trade and revenue has failed to dissuade Kim and his scientists. Even after being declared a state sponsor of terrorism and being buried under a swathe of crippling sanctions, North Korea has undauntedly pursued its nuclear ambitions. The Institute for Science and International Security, a non-partisan Washington think tank, seems to know the reason behind this dilemma. According to their reports, a whopping 49 nations violated the UN Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea between March 2014 and September 2017. All US efforts in the security Council have either been vetoed or watered down by China and Russia. These permanent members fear the collapse of the hermit kingdom might trigger a desperate attempt at redemption by North Korea.

Another tactic used by the Trump administration to mount pressure on Pyongyang is conducting drills with its Asian allies. The US, South Korea, and Japan recently concluded a 2 day exercise aimed at tracking ballistic missiles. This came just days after bilateral drills between USA and South Korea. China and Russia have repeatedly apprised the US that these drills only add to the mutual provocation on both sides. Russian Military Chief, Garasimov, in a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defense, issued a warning that carrying out military training in proximity to the Korean mainland will only add to the hysteria and unstability surrounding the case.

China could bring an end to this standoff quickly, if it desired so, because it could close off the energy supply North Korea so requires. But Beijing’s uncertainty and caution only seems to spur Kim’s quest on. Unless China assumes a stiffer stance, a peaceful solution remains elusive beyond the distant horizon.

Instead of smothering North Korea with sanctions and pushing the nation and its people further into oblivion, it’s necessary to allow the state to practise its sovereignty by pursuing its military goals in a controlled manner. World peace hangs in a precarious balance as leaders across the globe engage in shows of force and veiled diplomacy. With each nation trying to keep its best interests forward, someone will have to rise to the occasion as to avoid a worldwide meltdown.