The last time I mentioned the North Korea threat, which has shook the balances this week, was in April. When I wrote on the U.S. - China- North Korea triangle, the U.S was hoping for China’s help with North Korea. The crisis, which has remained unmitigated, over the past few days has brought us to the current point with the UN Security Council's large-scale sanction decision. UN resolutions aimed at dealing a blow to North Korea’s exports in response to the country’s ballistic missile tests have imposed a ban on the trade of products such as coal, iron and iron ore. In addition, the UN, which put the international community in its place regarding the employment of North Koreans, also informed us about the cost of establishing new partnerships and investments with companies in the country.
Thus, while the most comprehensive economic measures ever taken against Pyongyang are in place, countries are requested to embrace them most diligently. The extent to what sort of an effect economic sanctions will have on a country like North Korea, which has a different mindset, is ambiguous. Especially Kim Jong-Un’s increasing rage due to the sanctions imposed leads us to question the cost-benefit issue here.
At this point, North Korea's dreaded destructive capabilities are also being discussed. While the country conveys the message that it has handled the long-range missile issue, the fact that the Hwasong-14 and -12 missiles have been tested this year comes to mind. However, it is also necessary to fully grasp whether the nuclear weapons to be inserted into the missiles have come to the point of being sufficiently minimized. According to the U.S., Pyongyang has reached this capability, but some experts says the country needs more time. Additionally, technical discussions about how well the current talents are working continue. On the other hand, whatever the situation, there is a serious regional and global threat.
Guam is the new target
What has been experienced and heard in the last few days indicates that the threat is quickly escalating. While After the UN’s resolutions Trump continues to castigate Pyongyang, however, he gets increasingly harsh responses.
In the quarrel fueled by Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tries to ease the tension by saying: “sleep well at night,” but North Korea's recent statements on Guam are hard to swallow and does not make for a sound night’s “sleep.”
Indeed, North Korea announced to the world that it plans to conduct a missile attack on Guam, located about 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang and an important base for the U.S., saying that it could be done with the job within 18 minutes. Now, the most dreaded question is what the results of the rockets, passing through the skies of Japan, will be… Or what the rockets could meet on its way there.
South Korea and Japan
While there are a few days left to the middle of August, the date North Korea plans on conveying its attack, the Pyongyang threat also is a primary concern of the region’s locals, with the U.S. on one side, and the Asians such as the Japanese and Chinese who will be effected by this on the other. Moreover, while there is the risk that these countries might become collateral damage, they look to the U.S for support in power and defense.
At this point, its makes one wonder to what extent the U.S. will embrace its Asian allies in the case of such a need while having to protect its own interests, although U.S. officials recently stated that there is no doubt that the support that has been always promised would be provided.
Here, I must add, whether North Korea (in the case that it attacks) will move toward Guam, the U.S. territory, or whether the matter will reach South Korea; these are questions which taunts the mind.
So, while the evolution of the issue is being anxiously watched, I must note that all solution scenarios have shortcomings. In this context, for example, forcing North Korea to give up on its nuclear power, which it devotes its existence to, seems to be an impossible path. Because, as implied by the multilateral occurrences in 2003 and beyond, which led nowhere, Pyongyang is not willing to sit down and negotiate on its nuclear power.
On the other hand, while the idea of bringing North Korea to its knees with economic sanctions seems to be an inevitable remedy for now, it is not a far-fetched possibility that the process does not mean an “end” for Kim Jong-Un.
If things reach a violent and war scenario, it is dreary to even talk about what will come next. Of course, at this point, whoever takes action first and what kind of action they will take will determine the course of the story.
When all the possibilities and risks are taken into account, the parties’ adoption of diplomacy and progress in an attitude that will ease the tension remains the most reasonable solution. After all, the North Korea risk, which has escalated recently and has broken a new record this week, is a vital issue concerning the entire world.