-Vynateya Purimetla (’21)
Recently, President Donald Trump took part in a two-week tour of Asia in order to strengthen relations with countries in the region and to project American power. The North Korean leader, Chairman Kim Jong-un, said that by doing this, Trump “begged for nuclear war.” Mounting tensions surround the nuclear relations between North Korea and the United States.
On September 15, 2016, President Trump stated on Twitter that “North Korea will never be able to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States”. On February 11, 2017, just five months after Trump’s tweet, Pyongyang test-launched an ICBM capable of reaching Hawaii. Chairman Kim was present for the launch.
From March to September 2017, North Korea tested more missiles, some of which having reached as far as the Sea of Japan, threatening the United States’ allies: Japan and South Korea. These developments prompted South Korea, Japan and the United States to send high-tech missile defense ships to the Sea of Japan and Gulf of Tonkin as a deterrent to continued missile tests.
On September 3, 2017, North Korea announced that it successfully built prototypes of an ICBM, but North Korea did not threaten the United States or any of its allies in the surrounding areas. After more missile developments and ongoing banter between the United States and North Korea, President Trump said on August 8, 2017 that “[North Korea] will be met with fire and fury” if they were to launch a missile. Then, on September 17, 2017, President Trump referred to Chairman Kim as “Rocket Man” on Twitter.
In the following months since, the United Nations has placed sanctions on North Korea and the United States has placed embargoes on North Korea in an effort to hinder missile development. At a United Nations speech on September 19, 2017, Trump once again referred to Chairman Kim as “Rocket Man.”
This brings us to the present. North Korea has claimed to be in the final developmental stages of different ICBMs and has fired missiles over Japan and South Korea. North Korea could kill 9.86 million people if they do fire a nuclear weapon at Seoul, 160,000 if fired at Guam, or 9.27 million if an attack occurred on Tokyo. It is a very real possibility that this could occur, and if it does, it could result in one of the heaviest losses of human life ever.
It is still unclear whether North Korea has built an ICBM that could reach the continental United States. But as diplomatic tensions between North Korea and the United States mount, it is clear that countless lives now hang in the balance. So, can this international conflict be solved—or will it end in fire and fury?