Commentary: The North Korean nuclear ‘crisis’ is an illusion

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Although it has involved disturbing events — ballistic missile launches, nuclear weapons tests, military exercises, inane bombast — the North Korean “crisis” of recent months is largely an invented one. A year ago, the probability that North Korea would fire a nuclear-tipped missile at the United States was essentially zero; the North did not have the capability to make such an attack. Pyongyang has made technological advances since then.

But despite what some analysts believe, others say there is no definitive, publicly available proof that North Korea has a missile with the range to strike the continental United States, a miniaturized nuclear warhead to mate with it, and the shielding technology to make sure the warhead survives the heat and pressure of reentry to the atmosphere.

That doesn’t, of course, mean the show is harmless. But even if the North acquires those technical capabilities, the likelihood it might attack the United States with a nuclear missile will remain exceedingly low, for one overriding reason: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is, as former Obama administration arms control director Jon Wolfsthal has explained in authoritative detail, neither crazy nor suicidal. The North Korean leader knows his regime would be erased within hours (more likely minutes) of his use of a nuclear weapon. Roughly 1,590 nuclear warheads deployed on U.S. ballistic missiles and bombers ensure that result. (The North has acquired the fissile material to build only 10 to 20 nuclear warheads, according to the most authoritative public reporting on the subject.) …

Read more : Reuters, 10.09.2017