Once again the threat of nuclear war has people asking some very serious questions.
We’ve been here before just a few weeks ago when President Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury, like the world has never seen” and was met with a promise to create “enveloping fire” around the US Pacific island territory of Guam.
Since then things have only escalated, culminating on Sunday with North Korea’s sixth - and largest - nuclear test to date.
HuffPost UK has enlisted four experts to help answer the question on everyone’s lips - will Shaun Keaveny’s dream come true or not?
The main takeaway? No one will choose to go to war but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen accidentally.
Our four experts are:
- Mark Seddon, former Speechwriter to UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Adjunct Professor in International Relations at the University of Columbia, NY
- Tom Plant, Director, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, London
- Dr. John Nilsson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge and Senior Fellow for Northeast Asia Asia Programme at Chatham House
- Dr James Hoare, Research Associate at the Japan and Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages and Culture
For our conclusion we end with a summary from Dr James Hoare...
“In one sense, war has always been imminent on the Korean Peninsula. Division in 1945 was followed by the emergence of separate states in 1948, each claiming to be the legitimate government of the whole peninsula and arguing for the reunification of what had been a united political entity from the 10th to the early 20th century. In June 1950, the DPRK tried to reunify by force. Stopped by the UN intervention, the DPRK was driven back and only saved by Chinese intervention.
“An armistice, signed in July 1950, left two armed camps facing each other across the Demilitarised Zone that followed the line of actual control at the end of the fighting. There were numerous clashes and localised conflict. Since the early 1990s, the DPRK has claimed no longer to recognise the armistice but in practice has abided by it. Just because something has been, does not mean of course that it will continue but it indicates that despite all the tensions, there is a long history of defusing what look like critical moments.
“At present, there is a very high level of rhetoric between the two sides. We are used to this on the part of the North Koreans and have learnt to discount it. Not so easy to judge is what US rhetoric means, especially when it comes from President Trump. But whatever he says, he is still faced with the dilemma faced by his predecessors since DPRK nuclear development became a concern in the early 1990s.
“If military force is used against the DPRK, Japan and even more the ROK (and the US troops and families in those countries) are likely to bear the brunt of any North Korean response. When President Clinton contemplated such action in 1992-93, he and his adviser concluded that the consequences in loss of life and economic destruction were too great. If anything, they have grown greater still since then, which is why the diplomatic approach has hitherto constrained tougher measures.”
Here’s a roundup of the latest stances of all the main actors in the current crisis:
North Korea has been quiet since announcing the “perfect success” of its nuclear weapons test. most likely to gauge the responses of the following...
THE UNITED STATES
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, says North Korea’s actions show that its leader, Kim Jong Un, is “begging for war,” and the time has come for the Security Council to adopt the strongest diplomatic measures.
Haley told an emergency session of the Security Council on Monday that “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”
Other Security Council members, including Japan and France, are calling for further sanctions. The council already imposed its stiffest sanctions so far on North Korea last month.
South Korea says Donald Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his South Korean counterpart on Monday, a third time the two spoke since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.
South Korea’s presidential office said Chung Eui-yong, President Moon Jae-in’s national security director, spoke with McMaster for 30 minutes on the phone on Monday morning to discuss the latest updates on the two countries’ response to the North’s test and their future response.
The US confirmed its strong defence commitment on South Korea and they both agreed to closely collaborate to come up with stern punitive measure against the North’s provocation.
THE UNITED NATIONS
The head of the UN organisation looking into North Korea’s recent nuclear test says it is seeking information about a second seismic shock that followed the detonation to rule out the possibility it was a second explosion.
Lassina Zerbo of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization says experts believe the second shock was geological and was caused by the blast.
But he told reporters on Monday that because it was recorded at the same location, the experts are working to have a better understanding of what caused the second shock.
In unusually strong language, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday urged North Korea to “stop provocative actions that destabilise the situation”.
He said Moscow sees “a dangerous trend in how quickly North Korea is making progress” in its nuclear program.
Ryabkov insisted that Moscow still sees diplomacy as the only viable solution to the Korea crisis.
He said: “The one who is stronger and smarter should show restraint.”
Ryabkov was speaking to Russian news agencies on the sidelines of a summit of major emerging economics in China.
China has warned North Korea against proceeding with its reported plans to launch another ballistic missile, saying it should not worsen tensions.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters on Monday that North Korea “must be very clear” that UN Security Council resolutions prohibit such activities.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM.
In Beijing, Geng said China hopes all parties, especially North Korea, “exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating tensions.”
Geng also said that China had lodged “stern representations” with the North Korean Embassy in Beijing after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.