In the aftermath of North Korea’s most recent missile launch, U.S. officials amplified rhetoric and preemptive military readiness. Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile test reinforced North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s commitment to the military strategy of mutually assured nuclear destruction (MAD).
The U.S. response indicated a serious unwillingness to accept the existence of North Korean ICBMs. Absent a U.S. shifted position or Kim’s abandonment of the MAD strategy, the Korean Peninsula became increasingly vulnerable to outright nuclear war.
U.S. Officials Assessment
Shortly after North Korea’s latest ICBM test, U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster met with Fox News‘ Bret Baier. At the Reagan National Security Forum, they discussed the likelihood of a future military conflict. Lieutenant General McMaster identified North Korea as:
“…The greatest immediate threat to the United States and to the world.”
Elaborating, McMaster described Kim’s ICBM program as the threat’s origin. After calling on allies to work together in opposing North Korea’s weapons program, he highlighted Kim’s increased ability to wage nuclear war via ICBM attack.
When questioned about the potential for outright war, the general responded,
“I think it’s increasing everyday, which means we’re in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem.”
McMaster framed the completion of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as the end of a timeline for available diplomatic solutions. He talked about Chinese leverage over North Korea as a possible nonviolent resolution. This assessment came despite previous statements from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Halley, doubting China’s ability to influence the North Korean regime through diplomacy.
Additionally, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke with CBS News’ John Dickerson over the weekend. The senator’s statements reinforced the possibility of military conflict. When discussing North Korea’s ability to place a nuclear weapon within a missile capable of reaching the U.S., Graham described President Trump’s policy of preemptive military action. Graham stated,
“We’re getting close to military conflict, because of North Korea is marching toward marrying up the technology of an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on top that can not only get to America but deliver the weapon.”
Nuclear Capable Aircraft Begin Exercises
The U.S. sent several new stealth aircraft to the Korean Peninsula to join the annual U.S.-South Korea Vigilant Ace combat exercise. On Monday, six F-22 Raptors and six F-35 Lightnings joined hundreds of other aircraft for combat drills. The inclusion of the stealth fighters marked a milestone for the joint operation. It has never had stealth fighters operate in these numbers. The U.S. Air Force described the move as a method to increase the “combat effectiveness” of the cooperating forces in the region.
Experts identified the new U.S. fighters as the weapon most capable of inflicting damage to North Korea’s anti-air defense systems. Notably, their state-of-the-art stealth coating is designed to prevent detection by enemy forces. Additionally, the F-22 is capable of carrying the B-61 nuclear bomb, and an updated version of the B-61 is scheduled for integration on the F-35. In lieu of these developments, the U.S. showed the ability for a nuclear first strike with a low probability for enemy forces to successfully defend against it.
Due to North Korea’s conventional weaponry, a 2005 war game illustrated devastating consequences. Estimates showed that 100,000 people living in Seoul would perish. In 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton said such a war would cost a trillion in economic damages and one million lives. Considering current developments, the costs of a nuclear war are amplified.
Forebodingly, Kim’s adherence to the MAD strategy and Trump’s unwillingness to allow it positioned South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. toward full-scale nuclear war.
Featured Image Via YouTube Video.