Asked by Jonathan Crouse, from Coastal Carolina University
North Korea's capability to threaten the United States comes in two forms:
The possibility that North Korean-origin fissile material could be sent to the United States, either through sale to terrorist groups or by delivering a nuclear device to a U.S. harbor by boat, or;
The ability to threaten U.S. interests abroad, including through renewed conflict on the Korean peninsula, where 28,000 U.S. forces are stationed with the mission of defending South Korea from North Korean aggression.
Sheila A. Smith argues that since the succession of Kim Jong-un, Tokyo has put greater emphasis on ensuring it is prepared militarily for a more unpredictable North Korea and strengthening support for UNSC sanctions on DPRK proliferation.
A new book offers useful insights into the North Korean mindset, but it overlooks the regime's durability and the reformist bent of its new leader, Kim Jong-un. The regime is here to stay, and the United States should pursue more peaceful relations.
Chinese officials see stability on the Korean peninsula under the Korean Armistice as a component that has enabled China's growth for over three decades. Despite a growing difference between the economic systems of China and North Korea, China's communist party leadership feels an affinity with North Korea because its government, like China's, pursues one-party leadership under a socialist banner.
North Korea, formally called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), remains a top security concern for the United States, despite its moribund economy. The DPRK poses a serious potential military threat to its neighbors and to U.S. military bases and allies in the Pacific.
Some argue that the best way to restrain North Korea is to strengthen sanctions, principally by putting more pressure on China to reduce its trade with North Korea. Others advocate a diplomatic approach and argue that engagement, not escalation, would be more effective. What all parties need to remember is that actions speak louder than words.
North Korea's ratcheting up of tensions requires South Korean and U.S. military forces in Korea to be prepared to defend against North Korean military incursions. Resumption of diplomacy will only be possible when North Korea signals it is ready to resume dialogue and all parties agree on an agenda that includes both tension-reduction and denuclearization.
Former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd discusses the ongoing situation surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program and the future of U.S.-China relations with Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman.
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