The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North/DPRK) is a country that lives in isolation from most of the rest of the world, not in small part because of the antics of its President Kim Jong-un and his drive to be a player on the world stage. One of his biggest pushes is the attempt to create a nuclear warhead and a missile to deliver it. His recent saber-rattling has resulted in a stark warning from the United States government.
We Will End You
At a March 14 press conference, Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder was asked a question about North Korea’s recent display of the submarine-launched cruise missiles and the country’s announcement, alleging its ability to attach a nuclear warhead to it. Specifically, the reporter asked about the readiness of the United States to respond should Kim choose a policy of “escalated provocations.”
General Ryder pulled no punches in his very explicit response made for the record when he said, “if North Korea [employed] a nuclear weapon, it would be the end of the North Korean regime.” He did not expand on his comments to indicate how that might be achieved, but he did stress the current policy of working with other nations “in the region to deter aggression” is what the US will strive to carry on into the future.
The DPRK’s sub-fired rockets, which reportedly landed in the Sea of Japan, plus the launch of several land-based ballistic missiles, came as a sort of protest as the United States and the Republic of Korea (South/ROK) carried out their annual joint military exercises. After former President Donald Trump had managed to bring Kim around to a place where he was willing to negotiate and pared down the size of these joint exercises beginning in 2018, President Joe Biden has ratcheted them back up to the largest that they have been in five years.
Possibly fanning the fires of Kim’s rhetoric are two recent comments made by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Oh Se-hoon, who is the mayor of the South’s capital city of Seoul. As the closest potential target of any military action that the somewhat unstable dictator to their North might launch, it’s not unreasonable for them to be jittery at the thought of depending on the timely reaction of the man sitting roughly 7,000 miles away in the White House for their safety.
In early January, Yoon reportedly said that if the problems posed by the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions were to worsen, his country would seek to build up its own arsenal, regardless of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory. On March 13, Oh Se-hoon, who is viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2027, spoke with Reuters and said that the ROK needs to build its own nukes, “even at the risk of international repercussions.”
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