Unpacking the Risk Posed by North Korea

Are moves like the recent North Korea rocket test just hollow posturing — or has this moved into something we should genuinely be concerned about?

By Alain StephensMarch 20, 2017 3:44 pm

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has declared a “rebirth” of the country’s rocket program—this statement coming after a successful test of a new long-range rocket engine, one which could possibly propel an intercontinental ballistic missile. This test comes two days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the U.S. was not going to rule out weaponization or even nuclearization of America’s East Asian allies to deter North Korean aggression.

The tit for tat exchange has many wondering if this is the beginning of a military showdown.

Scott Snyder, Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, says development on this front is more a question or when rather than whether it will happen.

However, Snyder says this issue is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. and China have vastly different visions for the future of the region.

“The U.S. thinks of a unified Korea under South Korean rule, while Beijing emphasizes the critical importance of stability and definitely doesn’t want a unified Korea allied to the U.S. on it’s border,” Snyder says.

But Snyder says some level of cooperation between these two powers is inevitable.

“In many respects at its core is a collective action problem that requires cooperation not only between the U.S. and its allies Japan and South Korea, but also requires some kind of meeting of the mind between Washington and Beijing,” Snyder says.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

  • What developments have been made in the progression of North Korea’s nuclear technology.
  • How North Korea’s actions jeopardize U.S.  foreign policy strategy in East Asia.
  • What are the are the U.S.’s options moving forward with this situation?

Written by Morgan O’Hanlon