The Pentagon has denied reports from NBC News last night that the US is planning to potentially attack North Korea even if they become convinced that another nuclear test is about to be carried out. The Pentagon insists no such decision has been made.
And while that offers at least a bit of assurance, officials also conceded that the US is in the process of assessing its various military options against North Korea, and declined to say if that included the possibility of attacking North Korea over the nuclear test, meaning it’s not totally ruled out by the denial.
Such an attack would be s a huge escalation, made doubly worrying because there is actually reason to believe that North Korea is about to conduct another nuclear weapons test. This would be their sixth test, with the previous five showing signs of increasing capability.
North Korean nuclear tests were previously followed by angry condemnations and threats of more sanctions. That’s kept the Korean War, which began in 1950, from ever really ending, as North Korean offers to negotiate a settlement have been spurned by US officials for years.
Attacking North Korea outright would be something else entirely, and with a US carrier strike group speeding toward the Korean Peninsula, other nations like Russia are expressing growing concern that’s a realistic possibility. If it does happen,, the consequences would be calamitous.
North Korea has been very blunt in their responses to the possibility of a potential attack, insisting they would carry out retaliatory nuclear strikes against US bases in the region, particularly those in South Korea. US officials doubted North Korea’s capability of actually carrying out such a move.
But the White House would be trying to call a very dangerous bluff by attacking and just betting North Korea doesn’t have deliverable nuclear warheads yet. To make matters even worse, North Korea is known to have a massive conventional missile arsenal, which would certainly be in play if the US attacks.
Even before North Korea had a nuclear program, that conventional arsenal was widely feared for having the capability of not only inflicting massive damage and casualties on US bases in South Korea, but having the potential to do devastating amounts of damage to densely populated South Korean cities like Seoul.
In the meantime, President Trump continues to hype the idea that he can “deal with” North Korea whenever he chooses, and having condemned the idea of diplomacy out of hand, seems to be squaring up for a military confrontation, irrespective of the consequences.