Tensions rise between Pyongyang and Washington, after Donald Trump’s statement that North Korea’s threats will be “met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
The US has recently calculated that there are up to 60 nuclear weapons controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, although some independent experts claim that there are much less. The assessment led by the Defence Intelligence Agency found that the missile-ready nuclear weapons have passed a key threshold to becoming a “full-fledged nuclear power.”
Last month, North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles, claiming they could reach the mainland. Following, on the 5th August, the UN Security Council adopted unanimous fines against North Korea for missile testing. The sanctioned state has responded that they are illegal, an attempt “to strangle a nation”, and vowed to make the “US pay a price.” Japan and China continue to pressure and urge Kim Jung Un to consider negotiations and cooperate with the US to develop new sanctions. Official statements from North Korea confirm that nuclear weapons will only be used against the US or another country that participates in “military action against North Korea.”
The state media of China recognised that North Korea must be punished for its missile testing, and criticised the US for its “arrogance.” Michael J. Green, the Japan Chair and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, bleakly stated that the “time for effective diplomacy has almost certainly run out. There is little to no chance that North Korea can be talked out of weapons it considers essential.”
There is overall fear, particularly when the leader of the only country in history to have used ICBMs before on an enemy makes such threatening statements. While previously it was thought that the weapons were years away from being ready, it is now a matter of how soon the missiles will be powerful enough to reach America or the rest of the world. Analysts and policymakers continue to be surprised by the fast achievements made ahead of the predicted schedule. Jeffrey Lewis, director the East Asia Nonproliferation Programme at the Centre for Nonproliferation Studies harrowingly stated that there was “similar scepticism about China’s capabilities in the early 1960s”, and 4 years later, they had a successful nuclear test.
The US and North Korean tensions have even affected the global market. Investors have been hit overnight, flocking to gold, Swiss franc, and Japanese yen as “safe havens”, whilst European, US, and Asian stocks are opening in red.