Tensions on the Korean Peninsula late last week had China and Russia both expressing concern that the US might attack North Korea, and while it hasn’t happened just yet, Vice President Mike Pence’s talk of US patience being over continues to give the impression that a US attack could be imminent.
North Korean officials aren’t backing town either, cautioning that this is a “dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war could break out at any minute.” North Korean Ambassador Kim In Ryong added that his government is fully ready to react to any war launched by the United States.
That’s a noteworthy aspect of this, as opposed to most “hot spots” around the world, that there appears to be no real sense that this war would be anything other than unilateral decision of the US to attack North Korea, with North Korea couching their moves as defensive, and US officials simply presenting everything North Korea does as “provocation” that might lead them to strike.
Pence heavily emphasized recent US attacks in Syria and Afghanistan, including cruise missile strikes against the Syrian military and the use of the “Mother of All Bombs” against a spot in rural Afghanistan as proof of America”s “resolve,” while President Trump warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has to “behave himself.”
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol insisted that North Korea would continue to conduct missile tests regularly, believing that the US is “reckless enough to use military means” and that they intend to be ready to respond to a war.
While the White House has downplayed North Korea’s ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons to a US attack, North Korea has a massive conventional military arsenal, which is capable of devastating retaliation against targets in South Korea, meaning any US attack would have major military consequences for US troops stationed in South Korea, as well as economic consequences for South Korea and the region in general.