While there is likely some truth to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s point that sanctions against North Korea would not be effective, nonetheless it is mostly a talking point.
In response to North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear weapons tests, the United States may deploy bombers to show that it takes North Korea’s tests seriously and reassure its allies in the region.
It is necessary to be clear that the United States will retaliate if North Korea provokes an attack on the United States or its allies, but containment and deterrence remain preferable to an unacceptably costly military intervention.
Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in ought to respond to the regime of Kim Jong Un jointly and without any ambiguity.
There’s no reason the United States cannot pursue a diplomatic track while at the same time deterring, defending, and containing the North Korean nuclear threat to America and its allies.
Kim Jong Un is likely to view President Trump much like his predecessors—as a president who doesn’t like North Korea’s nuclear capabilities but with few realistic options for stopping it.
The Korean Peninsula is a large source of volatility in the geopolitical situation of East Asia.
Recent US sanctions against China and Russia are signs of the Trump administration’s toughening approach to North Korea. Ironically, these sanctions come on the heels of a UN Security Council resolution imposing new measures against North Korea that the US, China and Russia voted in favor of.
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North Korea’s motivations for pursuing nuclear capabilities have changed over time, but are rooted in a sense of existential threats coming from outside the regime.