Opinion: North Koreans can strike first – if they dare

Ava Gallagher

North Korea has attempted to play the United States on a dangerous global chessboard.

North Korea has recently amped up threats of war while intensifying their nuclear program, despite massive economic sanctions. They have nullified the 1953 armistice with South Korea, therefore reengaging in the Korean War, and have repeatedly threatened the United States, promising an imminent attack. On top of that, North Korea has reopened their nuclear reactors and has begun higher research into nuclear weaponry. They have closed off factories to South Koreans and have taken measures to set up a war front.

And on April 4, North Korea moved a missile with “considerable” range to the eastern coast of the country. All indications lead towards North Korea finally following through on their war rhetoric that they have been spewing for years. But should the United States truly be worried about this? There seems to be little, if any, direct threat to the United States itself. North Korea has one missile in its arsenal capable of reaching the United States in any capacity, and that missile is most certainly not equipped with nuclear technology. On top of that, the U.S. has more than adequate missile detection systems that could easily shoot it down before it reached our shores.

Furthermore, the missile moved to the east coast of North Korea does not have the range to reach America, according to top South Korean war officials. The true threat lies with South Korea, as they are an easy and accessible target that embodies much of the same ideals as the United States. Following the Cold War, South Korea thrived under the capitalist model, converting their country into one of the wealthiest and most successful in the post-WWII theater. Because of this, South Korea became the antithesis of North Korea, which bodes poorly for the North Koreans.

At this point, the United States does not need to reengage in Korean War 2.0, especially after recently withdrawing from Iraq and being in in the process of withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, they can’t issue a preemptive strike either, as that would only further agitate the angry hornets’ nest of North Korea.

Additionally, the United States, as well as the U.N., needs China to not support North Korea,  which would be difficult if the U.S. was the aggressor. Is it worth the risk of waiting out this threat with no action, though? Despite its lack of certainty, this seems to be the best option at this point. Again, North Korea has no nuclear capability and cannot withstand a full attack from South Korea, the United States, and the U.N.  if they were to initiate attacks.

Alternatively, there could be no pending attack at all. Instead, this could all be a show perpetrated by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to ensure his power seat as the dictator of North Korea. As it stands, the North Korean army could easily overpower Kim and insert a new figurehead into North Korea. As a show of power and complete dominance, Kim could be orchestrating a lengthy façade just to show the military his might and to discourage anyone from attempting an overthrow. If this is the case, then there is no threat of an attack and thus no measures necessary to be taken. At this point, the most prudent decision is to wait and let North Korea make the first move, whatever it may be.