North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador warned on Monday that tensions on the peninsula have escalated so high that “a nuclear war may break out any moment.”
This is exactly the kind of bluster Pyongyang has engaged in for decades.
The USS Michigan, a stealthy submarine laden with 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles just arrived in South Korea’s Busan port. It likely carried Navy SEALs and covert submarines designed for operations deep behind enemy lines.
US bombers frequently train on how to strike North Korean targets. Stealth jets like F-35s and F-22s wait in the wings in case of conflict. A US aircraft carrier decked out with dozens of fighter and electronic attack aircraft sits just off North Korea’s shores.
But experts say none of that really matters.
According to Tom Plant, the director the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy program at the Royal United Services Institute, “the US always, at all times, has an overwhelming superiority over North Korea,” so a few new jets doesn’t really change things.
“In terms of its precision strike technology, in terms of its ability to put metal on targets,” there is never really a contest between the US and South Korea versus North Korea, Plant told Business Insider.
But a stalemate remains. North Korean artillery, before getting obliterated by US and South Korean air power, could kill off as many as 20,000 in South Korea’s capital of Seoul each day. This all but precludes a US preemptive strike.
Additionally, although a major naval drill has recently begun, Plant said he doesn’t see any evidence of a swell of ground troops that would indicate war is likely.
While the US would strike North Korea to prevent widespread death and destruction in the US or any of its allies’ homelands, it hasn’t come to that point yet.
North Korea as much as admitted it doesn’t have a credible way of striking the US on Monday, with an official telling CNN it needs to conduct more tests. Striking South Korea or Japan would also result in a smoldering Pyongyang.
“The last person who wants conflict on the [Korean peninsula] is Kim Jong Un,” said Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of the CIA’s newly created Korea Mission Center previously said. Kim Jong Un has “no interest in going toe-to-toe” with the US, continued Lee.
When hearing North Korean propaganda statements, remember that the rational but paranoid country has made a habit of grandiose threats as it stares down superior conventional and nuclear military power from the US and South Korea.
North Korea has found that the best way to protest US military strength that they can’t possibly defeat sitting near its borders is to float the idea that nuclear war may be just a moment away, but that’s the last thing it wants.