On Wednesday, November 29th, North Korea successfully tested its Hwasong-15 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). The launch was of huge significance because it demonstrated the Hwasong-15’s potential range of over 12 000 km, which puts the entire United States (US) mainland within reach of a North Korean missile strike – and possibly even a nuclear strike.
Of equal significance is China’s recent unveiling of its next-generation ICBM, the Dongfeng-41, that can strike ‘anywhere in the world’. The missile, which was tested for the eighth time earlier this month, can reach speeds of up to 12 000 km/h (Mach 10), and is designed to carry 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads.
Whether the unveiling of the Dong-Feng 41 was coincidental to North Korea’s Hwasong-15 test is of little relevance because the message is abundantly clear: Don’t mess with China!
If anything, the unveiling served as a stern warning to the US that China stands ready to intervene on North Korea’s behalf should the US and its allies launch a pre-emptive strike to try and overthrow Kim Jong-un’s government.
This has placed President Donald Trump in a precarious position: he needs to make sure his dispute with North Korea doesn’t escalate into a full-blown confrontation involving both North Korea and China.
Not only that, there’s the strong possibility that Russia would side with its ‘communist’ neighbours – especially since they all share the Asian continent, while the US lies across the Pacific.
Trump should also consider the reverse scenario: how would the US feel if China was contemplating a potential nuclear invasion of Mexico on some pretext?
Then, there’s US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who said the US “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearisation”, and that “diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now”.
Tillerson’s idea of diplomacy is tantamount to bullying … do what the US tells you to do, or we’re going to punish you with sanctions, label you a “state sponsor of terrorism”, and possibly even declare war on you – and it’ll be all your fault for not complying with our ‘diplomatic demands’!
Unfortunately, the US seems oblivious to the fundamental principle of diplomacy: that it’s a two-way street, particularly when it comes to the subject of denuclearisation. The reality is, there’s nothing diplomatic about demanding North Korea’s comprehensive nuclear disarmament while the US is not prepared to entertain any denuclearisation whatsoever.
What is astonishing about this explosive US/North Korea standoff, is that nowhere in American mainstream media has there been any mention of mutual nuclear disarmament as a viable option for the US to explore with North Korea. Surely this truly diplomatic strategy is deserving of airtime.
The way forward
In the likely event that the US refutes mutual denuclearisation as a viable way forward, the fate of the world will rest in the hands of two other super-powers: China and Russia.
Since China and Russia reside in such close proximity to North Korea, they are particularly concerned about a nuclear war being waged on the Korean Peninsula. A war of this nature would contaminate huge swathes of their territory with radioactive fallout, leading to hundreds of millions of refugees, destroyed crops and livestock, and countless other unimaginable disasters that both the Chinese and Russian governments will do whatever it takes to avoid.
This leaves them with only two options. First: to stand up in front of the UN Security Council and instruct the US to stand down with respect to its military options against North Korea. Not only that, they should warn the US that if it uses nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, both China and Russia would respond in kind with proportional nuclear force on the US mainland.
Or, the more sensible second option: China and Russia should call a meeting with the seven other nuclear nations and initiate the discussion around mutual nuclear disarmament.
– Robert J. Traydon is a BSc graduate of Engineering and the author of ‘Wake-up Call: 2035’. He’s travelled to over 40 countries across six continents and worked in various business spheres. His articles explore a wide range of controversial subjects and current affairs from a uniquely contrarian perspective.