April 16, 2017

Over the past week global tensions have risen beyond anything experienced in recent years. While the Tomahawk missile strikes in Syria shook the global community and degraded the already strained relationship between Russia and the United States, this was not the most volatile situation to develop this week. In response to ballistic missile tests carried out by North Korea over the past few weeks, the United States has diverted a naval strike group led by the imposing USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class super-carrier towards the Korean Peninsula. This move has led many to fear that this could potentially lead to a nuclear war, possibly even a third World War. This maneuver not only put military pressure on the North Koreans, but was also intended to encourage China to further “reign-in” the rogue regime. This was made evident by President Trump’s tweet :

Trump tweet NK China.jpeg

In terms of gaining the support of China, it appears President Trump has been at least partially successful. In another tweet earlier today, Trump claimed that China is “working with us on the North Korean problem.” While China has agreed that North Korea’s provocative nuclear program must be terminated, they are strongly against the use of any military actions in the region. Instead, China is urging all sides involved to take a step-back and instead pursue diplomatic solutions.

That said, even with China pushing for diplomacy it seemed all too likely that this week was going to end violently. Many feared that Saturday was going to be the day that this “powder keg” finally exploded. This was due to the fact that it was almost certain that North Korea was going to conduct another nuclear or missile test in celebration of the 105th birthday of Kim Il Sung; the founder of the DPRK and grandfather of their current leader Kim Jong-Un. It was speculated by many that if North Korea attempted to launch another long-range missile test that the U.S. would have shot it down. This would almost certainly have led to either the North Korean regime attacking the U.S. troops and allies in the region, or the U.S. forces launching preemptive strikes to destroy North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

Fortunately, the weekend came and went without nuclear war breaking out. Unfortunately, this was not due to diplomacy, either side de-escalating militarily, or a resolution to this dillema in any way. Rather, a technical failure may be the only thing that prevented a nuclear war from erupting. As anticipated, despite the near certainty of provoking war with the USA, the North Koreans attemted to launch a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday. Fortunately for everyone, North Korean missile technology is less than reliable. This particular missile test ended almost as quickly as it had begun with the missile exploding almost immediately after it was launched.

According to a White House foreign policy adviser traveling with Vice President Pence there was not be a response by the U.S.A to this particular event because “there was no need for the U.S. to reinforce the failure.” That said, United States officials also made clear that it may respond differently to similar incidents (including failures) in the future, and guaranteed that if this had been a nuclear test the response would have been drastically different.

Although the events of this weekend went better than many people expected, this is far from over. Tensions between the United States and North Korea are still dismal, and both countries are still poised and ready for war with one another. North Korea has made clear that it will not relinquish its’ nuclear weapons, and the USA has shown no sign of backing down from its’ intention to de-nuclearerize North Korea. While this incident passed without incident only time will tell how this dillema will be resolved in the long run.

 

by,  Frank Bursese

 

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