North Korea: Nukes or love?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a meeting of information workers of the whole army at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang Credit: Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a meeting of information workers of the whole army at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang
Credit: Reuters

Confused about North Korea? Here’s Metro’s guide to the hermit state’s sabre-rattling.

Does North Korea want war?

Almost certainly no. Pyongyang has responded with fearsome sabre-rattling to a joint South Korean-US military exercise. A US missile destroyer based in Japan has now sailed closer to the Korean peninsula. But attacking it would be an act of folly that now even North Korea’s isolated regime would be naïve enough to commit. According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the Pyongyang hasn’t mobilized military forces to the extent that its rhetoric suggests.

So why has the US missile destroyer sailed to Korea?

To deter North Korea – and to calm the South. In a perverse way, by sending the missile destroyer the US is trying to stave off a war.

Why, if Kim Jong-Un doesn’t want war, is he apparently trying to start one?

It’s an old North Korean trick. Kim Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong-Il, used to resort to military posturing when the country needed food aid, and the international community would promptly comply.

What about nuclear weapons?

That’s a source of concern. On Monday North Korea announced that it will reopen its nuclear facility, which has the potential to produce weapon-grade nuclear material. Pyongyang has already claimed that its missiles can reach the US West coast. But, say analysts, Pyongyang is not planning to send an atomic bomb to California.

Why?

Because the US would retaliate in kind.

So what’s North Korea up to?

To put it simply, it just wants a little love. Pyongyang doesn’t like the United States’ close relationship with South Korea, so it’s essentially trying to bully the US into loosening those ties.


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