In the midst of Trump’s “fire and fury” tweets and ominous imagery of nukes hanging overhead, it can be easy to forget the facts. Over the past few months, North Korea has been launching missile tests, experimenting with combining a long-range missile and a nuclear warhead. On the Fourth of July, North Korea launched a missile called an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM]—a missile with the power to cross the Pacific Ocean and land in Alaska. Earlier this week, North Korea announced that they had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, which means that they can be placed inside missiles such as an ICBM. They have officially stated that they have missiles which are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. While most experts believe that it will still be a year or two before North Korea can produce highly accurate long-range missiles, the threat is now much closer than it had been before.
In response to this situation, Donald Trump has asked for China to “put a heavy move” on North Korea and cut off any economic ties between the countries. Additionally, the United States and South Korea both launched several precision missiles into the South Korean Sea as a show of force against North Korea. President Trump has been very clear that any threats to the United States will not be tolerated. Following reports that North Korea had the potential to put a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, he tweeted that any threat would be met with “fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before.” After this warning, North Korea revealed that they had plans to launch four missiles at Guam, a tiny US territory in the Pacific Ocean that is home to 7,000 US military personnel. While a diplomatic solution is still the goal, and economic sanctions and diplomacy will be attempted before moving into options regarding military force. As of Tuesday, August 15th, Kim Jong Un has announced that the proposal for launching missiles at Guam has been put on hold. It appears that both the United States and North Korea have backed off—for now. Beginning August 21, the US and South Korea have been participating in joint military drills, although they are insisted to be purely defensive. But for the time being, tensions have lowered and we wait in uneasy silence for someone to make the next move.
By: Rachel Smith