North Korea is one of the greatest threats to world peace in modern global politics, and though the isolationist state has been actively hostile towards its neighbours and the Western world since its inception, it now appears that decades of tension are threatening to overwhelm diplomacy once and for all.
Talk of full-scale war has been a tentative possibility for years, but one thing has deterred any world superpowers from engaging in direct conflict with North Korea: namely its devastating nuclear arsenal.
For its own part, North Korea has made no secret of the fact that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, and in fact has routinely taken great pains to test their many nuclear missiles through methods that seem designed to actively intimidate other nations. North Korea’s first nuclear test was announced in October of 2006, when a one kiloton nuclear explosion was detected by seismologists underground.
Since then, the North Korean military has only become more aggressive, and the dictator Kim Jong-un, bolstered by his family’s cult of personality, seems determined to pursue an even more hawkish foreign policy than his predecessors. But how much danger are we all really in? According to a top US intelligence expert, nuclear armageddon is now apparently “inevitable”.
Let me be very clear on this point. If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland. While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed, and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.
The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, who also attended the committee meeting, refused to share details of the proposed timeline for North Korean nuclear potentiality, out of fear that any leak of US security intelligence could give Pyongyang the upper hand. Coates stated: “we do not have constant, consistent capabilities and so there are gaps, and the North Koreans know about these,” adding that “Kim Jong-un has publicly stated that he would like to have intercontinental ballistic missile capability that could reach the United States … but they have not reached that capability yet.”
North Korea is currently performing extensive tests of a new missile system, the most recent of which landed within 200 nautical miles of the Japanese coast. On May 14, North Korean scientists launched a missile that reached an altitude of more than 2,100 meters. If scientists are able to develop an effective reentry system, it would make North Korea capable of striking the American-held territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.