After years of threatening to destroy the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, North Korea—now faced with a U.S. president willing to use military action—is talking about “global peace.”
For the ruling class in Pyongyang, the threat of military force against its adversaries has been a key part of its domestic efforts to maintain its ruthless regime for decades.
The reality, however, is that North Korea is an impoverished country that cannot even provide enough food for its citizens to eat. Much of its military equipment is outdated, and it wouldn’t stand a real chance of winning against a vastly superior United States army.
That’s where North Korea’s nuclear weapons come in. The regime is well aware that the only way it can matter on the world stage is by having nuclear weapons at its disposal.
With only months left for its nuclear weapons program to be finalized, North Korea has sharply escalated its threats of firing the weapons of mass destruction at the U.S. mainland as well as Japan and South Korea.
In response to this threat, President Donald Trump has pursued diplomatic efforts backed up with economic sanctions and the threat of military action to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons program.
On Trump’s request, the military has drawn up a number of scenarios for military action, which have been refined over the past few months. The United States has also been deploying strategic military assets to the region, such as the aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan, and at least two nuclear-powered submarines with the ability to fire cruise missiles that are currently taking part in navy drills.
Once hungry to fight the so-called “final battle” with the United States, as North Korea calls it, its state media are now expressing worry about the “simmering tension” and prospect of military action on the Korean Peninsula.
An article published by the communist regime’s state media on Oct. 24 said North Korea had sent a letter to the United Nations about the naval drills and the “threat to global peace.”
It also raised concerns over the United States gaining support from NATO and other allied forces in the Korean peninsula.
In a separate article published on the same day, North Korea raised concerns about Japan’s close collaboration with the United States. On the same day, a Japanese official said that the threat of nuclear war with North Korea had reached an “unprecedented” level.
In reality, North Korea has become increasingly isolated on the world stage.
In recent months, two of North Korea’s closest allies, China and Russia, have joined the United States in imposing stronger sanctions on it.
Especially the sanctions imposed by China—on which North Korea relies for some 90 percent of its trade—are believed to have a major impact on the regime’s economy.
Trump is expected to pressure Chinese leader Xi Jinping to expand the sanctions further and to put more pressure on North Korea.
Absent a diplomatic solution, which North Korea has refused so far, the threat of a military option is real.
“The president has been extremely clear on his perspective on North Korea. He’s not going to accept this regime threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon. He just won’t accept it,” National Security adviser H.R. McMaster said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Oct. 19.