It came as no surprise to hear that the rogue, pariah state of North Korea is carrying out long-range ballistic missile testing, and it was no coincidence this test-run took place on the 4th of July, greatly exacerbating the tension between the US and North Korea.
Indeed, these missiles are capable of hitting Alaska — transforming the small country from one that is merely an annoyance in Southeast Asia to a real and ominous threat to stability and world peace. Thankfully it is believed that the one-party state is not yet able to couple missiles and a nuclear warhead, but despite America’s attempt to halt this process they are moving ever closer to this highly pernicious and incendiary goal.
Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of State, has now described the situation as requiring ‘global action’ and the state as a ‘global threat’. Mr Tillerson’s words don’t overstate the significant nature of the current political climate and the need for skilled diplomacy spanning various countries to deal with it. However, over the last thirty years various US administrations and other allies have tried to engage in negotiations to deter this bellicose behaviour with a distinct lack of success. A resolution is now more important than ever before; a resolution is also no nearer fruition.
So, what is the best course of action to stop North Korea reaching its goal and make the world a more stable and secure place?
Of course, this is an extremely complex scenario and there is certainly no quick fix. However, the best and most likely route to success is undoubtedly for China to pressurise Pyongyang through diplomatic means and economic sanctions. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, accounting for 90 per cent of their trade and 100 per cent of its aviation fuel. This gives China unparalleled influence over North Korea, exemplified in 2003 when their sanctions forced North Korea to come to the negotiating table. But now, more than ever, the west must hope that China will be willing to use this leeway to stop the belligerent and potentially catastrophic behaviour of the state.
If it’s so straightforward, why hasn’t China already resolved this problem? (you might ask.) To put it simply, once the sanctions are at a severe enough level to damage the regime, they would greatly harm the lives of civilians and potentially lead to regime collapse, creating a void that could be filled by a powerful, united, and successful Korea — this greatly contradicts the Chinese interest.
Indisputably China is in the most powerful position, but it is not the one who is threatened by the dictatorship — it is America and South Korea. This is why these two joined together to provide a ‘show of force’ on the day of North Korea’s missile testing. Indeed, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said:
‘We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea’.
This shows America’s absolute willingness to use their military might against the rogue state if they pose a veritable threat. President Trump has made his desire for a diplomatic, peaceful settlement clear; but Kim Jong-un has repeatedly stated that North Korea is not open to debate, as displayed through years of failed talks.
With the inevitability of a nuclear North Korea looming, it is of pressing importance that a solution is found before it reaches its devastating goal. Seemingly, the only viable solution is for China to step in, or else the situation might escalate into something that is absolutely calamitous.