Exeter, Devon UK • Oct 4, 2023 • VOL XII
Exeter, Devon UK • Oct 4, 2023 • VOL XII
Home Features World War 3 – Should we be worried?

World War 3 – Should we be worried?

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Ever since Kim Jong-Il threatened to withdraw North Korea from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1993, eventually leaving ten years later, in 2003, North Korea has been on a slow and steady trajectory towards nuclear weapons. This trajectory has been continued, if not quickened, by Jong-Il’s son Kim Jong-Un. The reality of this ambition has been no more unavoidable than in recent months, with every other day yielding news of another nuclear test by the North or reactive remarks from the South or USA. The nature and number of these reports would lead you to believe that we are on the brink of a Third World War, but how accurate is this assumption?

Capabilities

It has long been accepted that North Korea had nuclear weapons, but what reassured the international community was their limited ability to mount these onto missiles that would fire them far enough and accurately enough to damage the USA. Despite the ongoing Korean War, North Korea’s primary enemy has always been the United States, as it is arguably their biggest threat. Until they had the ability to launch a nuclear weapon at the West Coast, any attack was almost certainly impossible.

Image/Wikipedia.com

This all changed on the 4th of July when North Korea announced the first successful test of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The missile is believed to have a range that could extend to Alaska, placing the USA in North Korea’s nuclear range for the first time. This test eliminated any doubt or speculation, the North could fire an ICBM armed with a nuclear warhead at the United States.

Reaction

The four most influential parties other than North Korea in this political quagmire are South Korea, the USA, Russia, and China. The two sides of this conflict have remained constant since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. China and the Soviet Union (what would now be considered Russia) fought alongside the North, and the USA fought alongside the South. Despite a military armistice these factions remain ever-present, now represented in diplomatic efforts. The USA acts in defence of the South, and thus shares their burden of being a major enemy of the North, whilst Russia and China consistently undermine the USA’s efforts and condemn their more aggressive defensive measures.

‘where south korea usually turns for support and level-headed reassurance, they are met with meaningless rhetoric’.

North Korea’s recent strides towards nuclear capabilities have done more to unite these four parties than any other event in the past 67 years. Russia and China have eased up, ever so slightly, on their condemnation of the USA’s defensive measures, and on occasion condemned the North themselves. The 4th of July test prompted official condemnation by both Russia and China who pledged to work together to de-escalate the conflict. This, however, did not prevent either country making clear their anger at the USA’s recent deployment of the Terminal High Arial Area Defence (THAAD) system, likely delaying the rollout until sometime in 2018.

There have been reports that in response to the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear testing South Korea have established a military team with the objective of assassinating Kim Jong-Un if necessary. This course of action would be yet another attempt at removing a dangerous dictator from an unstable country and, judging from how similar attempts have panned out (Cuba, Iran, Libya), it would carry a lot of risk and does not promise a positive future for the situation. Why, then, is South Korea even considering such an obviously dangerous move? Desperation.

Where South Korea usually turns for support and level-headed reassurance, they are now met with meaningless rhetoric and Twitter temper tantrums. Donald Trump’s approach to the North Korean Problem has appeared much more volatile and violent than any of his predecessors, promising North Korea will be met with ‘fire and fury’. These vague threats do nothing to deescalate the situation, nor do they do anything to deter North Korea, who some now believe to be led by a more capable and level-headed leader.

Image/Wikipedia.com

The Future

Should we all start investing in nuclear bunkers in the Arctic or go about our lives as normal? The threat is real, no doubt — North Korea have the ability to do as they say. But whether or not they actually have the desire and the motivation is another matter. A successful strike on the South, or indeed the USA, would lead to retaliation from almost every other nuclear power, obliterating North Korea. An unsuccessful strike would be met with the same. North Korea knows this. It would take a truly unstable, idiotic leader to launch their country into a nuclear war that would leave the vast majority of their people dead. No matter how infantile, volatile, and vengeful Kim Jong-Un is, I do not believe he is stupid or impulsive enough to kick-start that nature of conflict. Perhaps we should be worrying about the USA instead.

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