In the last few weeks, Kim Jong-un – the supreme leader of North Korea, and son of the late Kim Jong-il – has been having a crack at world politics
He tore up the Korean War truce. He declared that North Korea had entered a state of war with South Korea. He held a meeting with senior members of his party, and then announced that Pyongyang will strengthen its nuclear weapons program. His regime has threatened to strike the US mainland.
Is it time to be worried about North Korea? Obviously a rogue regime led by a despot is always cause for concern – but the question everyone is asking is this: do we need to be more worried than usual?
Let’s have a look at some recent events.
1. North Korea has developed a plan for an attack on the US mainland. But then again, maybe they haven’t.
North Korean state media released photos on Friday that appeared to show attack plans for the US mainland, with the lettering “Strategic Forces’ US Mainland Striking Plan”, reported News Ltd. It is believed that the photos were released intentionally, to distort public perception about North Korea’s military strength.
Most analysts agree that North Korea does not currently have the ability to launch an attack on the US mainland, and that current threats are merely posturing. Propaganda to show strength in domestic politics; and an attempt to scare the United States back to the negotiating table.
2. North Korea has refused to give up their nuclear arms, despite repeated warnings and sanctions from the United Nations. In early March, the United Nations placed new – and tougher – sanctions on North Korea, after they threatened a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the United States.
Last week at the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, the Korean Central News Agency reported that their nuclear weapons “represent the nation’s life, which can never be abandoned as long as imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth”. The party’s statement continued that their nuclear weapons were “neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings”.
Of course, if another country’s ruler asked the US military to “give up” their nuclear weapons, they would probably not be amenable to that suggestion.
South Korean and American officials are still trying to use negotiations and sanctions to convince North Korea give up their nuclear weapons.
3. North Korea has announced a “state of war” with South Korea. However, technically North and South Korea have been at war for the last half-century, as the last Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice – not a peace treaty.