On In People & Politics

North Korea Is Ready To Test Its Newly Upgraded Nuclear Bomb

Amid the cacophony over North Korea "ready to conduct nuclear test", the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 16, 2017, suggested a “new approach” towards North Korea. But what exactly is this “new approach”? Does the new approach imply military engagement? It has been seen in the past that the US has been worried about the speed at which North Korea’s weapons program has been progressing. Let's take a look at what's happening in this part of the world.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Seoul, South Korea

Speaking about decades of failed “diplomatic and other efforts,” and calling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs “totally unacceptable,” Tillerson urged North Korea’s leaders “to change your path.” In this video, he is seen speaking in Seoul, South Korea on March 17, 2017, where he says “It may be necessary to take pre-emptive military action against North Korea if the threat from their weapons program reaches a level that “requires action.”

North Korea's failed missile launch ends in Explosion!

Four days after Tillerson’s remarks suggesting military action against North Korea as an option, Pyongyang fired a missile in the morning of March 22, 2017. However, the missile exploded within seconds of launch. The launch attempt comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region, with the US and South Korea conducting joint military exercises aimed at countering the North Korean threat.Corroborating the fact, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, “North Korea fired one missile from an area near the Wonsan Air Base this morning but it’s presumed to have failed.”

King Jong-un, leader of North Korea, New Year Speech, 2017

North Korea’s arsenal growth has sent ripples down the US administration and strategic experts. Not specifying what military options were under consideration in the US, Tillerson may have been pointing at bombing as the most likely strategic choice. Though US has air superiority over North Korea, a ground offensive certainly holds huge risks. There is no clarity over naval action. The contemplation over North Korea comes at a time when Kim Jong-un, the leader of the nuclear-armed country, has made it clear that he wants the nuclear capability to strike the US mainland. In his New Year’s address, he said North Korea had “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile.” 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US Presient Donald Trump (Left to Right)

In this backdrop of Kim’s New Year speech and subsequent missile launches and tests, the Trump administration, much like his predecessors, has clearly signaled that it is prepared to use force to stop Kim Jong-un’s regime.

North Korea's nuclear arsenals

North Korea's nuclear stockpile is said to be beyond imagination. Thus far, the country is said to have conducted five nuclear tests in the last decade and more than 20 ballistic missile tests in 2016 alone. 

Celebrations after the rocket engine test (Officer over Kim Jong-un's back)

This picture showing the officer on Kim’s back has gone viral across all digital platforms, while anxieties dominate US’s foreign policy debates. Among the pictures released by state news agency KCNA, Kim has been seen watching the missile from a distance; grinning in a control centre; shaking hands with jubilant officers – then the best among all, Kim giving an elderly officer a piggyback!The reverie in Pyongyang is in contrast to the anxiety in Washington. What needs to be seen is how will the “new approach” proposed by the US transpire in reality?