In recent months, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has made plenty of threats of a nuclear attack if the United States and its allies — namely, South Korea and the United Nations — don’t ease up on their sanctions against the aspiring nuclear power that is his country. North Korea is still developing its nascent nuclear arsenal and the technology to effectively send nuclear warheads to the United States.
While South Korea, by virtue of their proximity to North Korean missiles, have a reason to worry, (and even then, over 28,000 military American military personnel are stationed there) the U.S. should not even give North Korea the dignity of taking their threats seriously.
Presently, the United States has a national missile defense system that would protect against nuclear missile launches. An attack of thousands of missiles trained on the U.S. may overcome such a defense, but a country with such a small and untested arsenal as North Korea’s would have little chance of getting anything through that system. Even as we speak, the U.S. is spending $1 billion to strengthen the already existent missile defense system in Alaska.
If Kim Jung Un really wanted to hurt the United States, he would have better luck supplying various terrorist groups with dirty (radioactive) bombs and having them detonate within our borders. His threats are less of a declaration of what the North Koreans will do and more of a way to boost morale within his country and to gain some sort of attention in the international community.
Even if, in an unlikely turn of events, Kim Jong Un opts for a nuclear launch, he would have to deal with the United States, South Korea, and the United Nations. Even China, North Korea’s longtime ally, has lost patience with the country. If North Korea’s muscle — that is, China — is cautioning Kim Jong Un to tone down the threats of nuclear war, one is probably not forthcoming.
The best thing North Korea can hope for at this point is to go back to the negotiation table, talk it out with the other parties involved and hope that the U.N. doesn’t impose even more sanctions on an already struggling, starving, and oppressed country. If North Korea wants to fire a nuclear weapon at the United States or South Korea, the only people to suffer would be the citizens of North and South Korea who would be in danger of a grizzly, existentially destructive repeat of the Korean war.