Since the inception of North Korea’s nuclear missile program, the country had undergone war of words with the U.S. The war of words began with Donald Trump’s fire and fury comment and it has not ended yet. There have been speculations about potential attacks and counter-attacks. Moreover, the U.S. has been warning neighboring countries of North Korea such as South Korea and Japan to keep an eye on the potential moves. However, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has clarified the country’s capabilities. The country has tested short, medium, intermediate, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, or ICBMs along with testing fission bomb. The declaration of nuclear weapons shows defensive capabilities, without which North Korea has no chance of survival. Moreover, it has clearly indicated its intentions to use nuclear weapons when the need arises.
In a war of words, the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have clarified that both of them possess a button which will trigger nuclear missile and attack each other. The possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea is itself a statement that would deter the attack from the U.S. If the U.S. attacks North Korea, then North Korea possesses power to retaliate and target the U.S. cities. As far as masses are at risk, the deterrence calculations vary.
The miscalculation could lead to a war. While showing strength with B-1 bombers to show Japan and South Korea that the U.S. has their backs, the show could lead to a surprise attack by North Korea. So the flight with no intention of being a surprise attack may be misinterpreted as a surprise attack, which could lead to a counter attack. If the U.S. plans for a surprise attack on nuclear assets of North Korea, it needs to be 1,000 percent sure about its ability to find and destroy all the assets. Because, if it misses any, it would lead to counter attack and potentially, a war.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster should take a measured approach to the North Korea problem if the war of words is not heading anywhere. Defense Secretary Mattis along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed that regime change approach will no longer be opted. The approach has been shifted to deterrence. However, if President Trump does not support this approach, it would be fruitless. It seems that Mr. President still wants to de-nuclearize North Korea, but it does not seem possible in this scenario.
The U.S. needs to practice deterrence along with dialogue and diplomacy. This approach has been worked with China and Soviet Union before. So, there is a probability that it will work with North Korea as well.