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News Analysis |

The horrors of the Fat Man and the Little boy are still fresh in memory. This August marked 72 years to the colossal damages inflicted upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At no time since then has the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe been so high as today. Two nuclear powers in the US and North Korea are inching closer to a clash with nuclear undertones.

The more Trump tries to portray a US attack imminent, the more North Korea will inch closer to a strike

President Trump took to Twitter on Friday and warned the ever so belligerent North Korea. He said that military solutions are firmly on the table and that it is hoped that Korea would take a different course. He Tweeted:”Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path!”.

This is the latest in a series of psychological and verbal war between the two countries. The dangerous diatribes started when Trump, in his cavalier off the cuff remark warned North Korea of a response with ‘Fire and fury’. The statement was deemed as spontaneous, surprising, and incendiary. North Korea responded by a direct and dire threat. Its military announced a detailed plan to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny US territory of Guam, home to two US bases and 160,000 people.

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In order to stop this catastrophic eventuality, Trump has to tweet with caution because often times deterrence or lack of it is linked with the psyche

Despite it being a rhetoric at best, Trump responded aggressively. He implored North Korea to get their act together or face a deadly response.”Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” he said.

Thus far the bellicosity in statements is not matched by mobilization on the battlefield. Both militaries are not seen preparing for war.

Why may North Korea press the button?

China asserted that it would not come to Pyongyang’s rescue if it launches a preemptive strike on US territory which invokes a response. However, China would intervene in the case of US initiation. China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and it strongly reiterated that message Friday.

Germany and Russia have also warned against recklessness.German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called the escalating rhetoric “the wrong answer.” She pledged her country’s support for “any nonmilitary solutions,” telling reporters in Berlin, “I don’t see a military solution to this conflict.”

The CIA has assessed that North Korea’s ICBM reentry vehicles would likely perform adequately if flown on a normal trajectory to continental U.S. targets

It is quite clear that Trump’s tweet regarding his military being fully prepared and deployed is a bluster. Such a scenario would have seen more deployment to bolster South Korean defenses and bringing in aircraft carriers, none of which is happening.

Read more: Ishaq Dar trying desperately to land in Washington

North Korea has reasons in not taking these threats lying down. For North Korea, it becomes difficult to ascertain if the threat is credible or just a mere bluster. Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) demonstrated that his country can hit the US mainland. The CIA has assessed that North Korea’s ICBM reentry vehicles would likely perform adequately if flown on a normal trajectory to continental U.S. targets.

China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula

This ability of the delivery system gives Pyongyang the confidence to launch preemptive strikes. Given that deterrence relies on effective second-strike capabilities, North Korea may find itself better off going first. Pyongyang will also be mindful of the US’ counterforce doctrine which runs the risk of the annihilation of Korean military facilities with a nuclear strike.

MAD is not tenable in the US-Korea equation which gives Kim a good enough reason to press the button. In order to stop this catastrophic eventuality, Trump has to tweet with caution because often times deterrence or lack of it is linked with the psyche. The more Trump tries to portray a US attack imminent, the more North Korea will inch closer to a strike.

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