Can North Korean leader Kim Jong-un be stopped? (2023)

How to stop Kim Jong-un

Can North Korean leader Kim Jong-un be stopped? (1)

Last year, North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un accelerated his country's rush to acquire nuclear weapons and ICBMs, leaving President Donald Trump facing a looming crisis. TIME asked six experts how we got here, why the problem is so pressing and so difficult — and what China and the U.S. can do now to solve it

Why we fell short and why it is no longer an option

Wendy Sherman and Evans Revere die

North Korea's isolated dictators have long believed that nuclear weapons would ensure the regime's survival against US military might and enable it to unify the Korean peninsula on its terms. Successive US administrations have tried different strategies to counter the regime's dangerous developments. Some have made progress but have been held back by North Korea's disloyalty, changes in political direction and wary partners and allies in the region who wanted a different approach.

We now know that during much of this time Pyongyang was working to maintain and even expand its nuclear program. North Korea has multiple nuclear weapons and is perfecting the missiles designed to carry them. The North Korean challenge, which President Obama reportedly told then-President Donald Trump, is the most dangerous and difficult security challenge he will face.

The US has tried diplomatic incentives, including normalization of relations, security guarantees, economic and food aid, and confidence-building steps. Nothing has produced lasting results. The US and its partners sought "freezes". Yet North Korea agreed to several freezes on its nuclear weapons program, but still found ways to violate the agreements and, when caught, refused international inspection and verification. The US government has attempted to impose sanctions, but has been confronted by China's unwillingness to enforce those sanctions and an inadequate international response.

During the Clinton administration, a negotiated plan to end North Korea's program, while successful, ultimately proved unsustainable. The US governments considered military action, but then backed off, deeming the risk of a catastrophic war too great.

The main reason we are where we are today is because North Korea has withdrawn from every nuclear disarmament agreement ever made. The regime clearly wants more nuclear weapons than any stimulus. And it has not changed its behavior despite sanctions.

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But no US government, working with regional leaders and the international community, has ever used all its tools and resources simultaneously and overwhelmingly to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program and force the regime to choose between nuclear weapons and regime survival.

Forcing Pyongyang to make this drastic decision is the best way forward. A successful American strategy carries risks, but a growing nuclear threat from North Korea and the possibility that a miscalculation could lead to war mean we must do everything we can to quickly meet the challenge of dealing with Pyongyang.

Sherman served as Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2011 to 2015. Revere served as Executive Director of the Korea Society from 2007 to 2010

Resist the temptation to do nothing

Chris Hill dies

There are undoubtedly problems and even crises in the worldaway alone The North Korean nuclear issue is not one of them. The growing number of tests in recent years, including two nuclear detonations in 2016 alone, suggest that North Korea has made the development, deployment and ability to deliver nuclear weapons a national goal. With its accelerating ICBM program, it has made it clear that it is seeking the ability to strike targets far from the Korean Peninsula, namely the US mainland.

But after decades, the temptation to simply do nothing is great. After all, Pakistan has developed and tested nuclear weapons with little international response. The same was true for India. And Israel. Why can't North Korea do the same? The answer lies in the nature of the North Korean state. North Korea has little interest in being a member of the international community, in having allies, or in collective security. Trade is reduced to a series of negotiations, and international standards of behavior ridiculed.

Some argue that North Korea wants nuclear weapons for regime security, an analysis that suggests North Korea is simply warning predators to stay away or it would happen.

North Korea's contempt for its neighbors even suggests it would hold them hostage with its nuclear weapons. North Korea threatened to turn the South Korean capital into a "sea of ​​fire". Such a threat takes on new significance when a country possesses nuclear weapons.

While South Korea and Japan are protected by their alliances with the United States and their nuclear umbrella, how long would this situation last? If North Korea invaded South Korea (again), would the US come to its aid if North Korea could threaten the US with a nuclear attack? Would the South Korean people believe a certain response from the United States? Would proliferation stop with South Korea and Japan? What about Taiwan? The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would soon crumble and with it the sense of security in the region.

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And if North Korea has an operational nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States within the next four years, would President Trump tell the American people that he weighed the options and decided it was best to do nothing?

A career Foreign Service officer, Hill served as Ambassador to South Korea from 2004 to 2005 and Deputy Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 to 2009

Can North Korean leader Kim Jong-un be stopped? (2)

The dangers of a preemptive strike

af Gregory F. Treverton

More than one US president has been lured into a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. The upside, however, is that it is unlikely to work for the narrow goal of ending the country's nuclear program, and for the larger goal of decapitating the regime, success may cause more problems than it solves.

Military options against the North's nuclear arsenal have two problems: they may not succeed, and Pyongyang has devastating retaliatory capabilities. The information on the Nordic nuclear program is quite good, but not perfect. From the beginning, the country has hidden important facilities and missilesThe more mobile they are, the harder they are to reach.

Airstrikes on nuclear facilities combined with cyber attacks and maybe commando attacks can do some damage, but since the program is now fully native, it can be fixed soon enough.

And it is hard to imagine Kim Jong-un doing nothing while the US and its allies destroy their nuclear program. Seoul is within artillery range in the north. Kim could retaliate without using nuclear weapons. This would mean that any attack on nuclear facilities must be accompanied by attacks on other facilities that threaten the South. In other words, the war would escalate before Kim retaliated.

The other preemptive options aimed at overthrowing the regime have their own quirks. If Kim was killed, would the regime break up or rally around the family? War games suggest that a dangerous mix of violence, refugees and a race to control these nuclear weapons would ensue. In this stew, the game suggests, allies, let alone China, would be as much of a problem as resistance from the remaining North Korean forces.

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From the current perspective, neither diplomacy nor sanctions are likely to thwart the Nordic nuclear program. Therefore, regime change seems increasingly attractive. But better, it comes from within. Given Kim's reckless habits—drinking and driving are two of his favorite pastimes—a self-inflicted biological solution is more than possible. Just as likely, an insider will eventually get so angry that they take him down, not to mention the consequences.

Treverton, former president of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, is a senior advisor to SM&A Corporation

China needs to get serious

Von Victor Cha

For decades, China has played a smoke-and-mirrors game with North Korea, trapping the United States in doomed negotiations that spare Beijing a short-term crisis on its border but ignore the larger problem. China's moves have undermined US goals in three key areas.

First, US economic sanctions against North Korea have proven ineffective as long as China continued to finance the regime through back channels and allow its companies and banks to do business with North Korea. Second, China has long been a free agent in negotiations, with little at stake in terms of short-term success or failure.

In past deals, the US and its allies have compensated Pyongyang with heavy fuel oil and energy subsidies in exchange for a freeze on North Korea's missile tests; China, meanwhile, maintained normal bilateral economic relations with Pyongyang and exempted the country from any direct involvement in the denuclearization project. Third, China has largely ignored the international anti-proliferation financing regime, which aims to punish North Korean companies that pour money into its WMD programs.

China's economic ties to the North should be the lever that forces change, not the reason it never happens. First, Washington must make clear to Beijing that it will not resume talks as long as China insists on keeping at least 80 to 85 percent of North Korea's trade.

Second, the US should make China step in and paydirectly for the denuclearization of North Korea. China's payments in support of Pyongyang should be directly related to nuclear inspections and eventual denuclearization, not to China's economic interests. If China pays for denuclearization, it will take North Korea's violations more seriously than in the past.

Finally, China must crack down on domestic Chinese companies doing business with North Korea. As with human rights abusers, the United States should "name and shame" Chinese nationals — such as the four named by the Justice Department in September 2016 — who conspired to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions and facilitate dollar transactions for a sanctioned company in North Korea. to give. If China takes the threat seriously, it should hand over such things.

(Video) North Korea’s mummified leader 🧟‍♂️

Cha served as the Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 2004-2007 and is now the Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University

Trump's new wrinkle brings promise and risk

Kurt Campbell dies

For President Donald Trump, there is a long-standing diplomatic truth: North Korea is the land of poor opportunity. That could explain why he and his team have largely followed a predictable pattern, announcing their intention to increase military deterrence with close allies, bolster US defenses in Asia and tighten sanctions against the North Korean regime.

The only news seems to be that the government will try to use force to blame China for North Korea's provocations. Some senior US officials are threatening to severely punish Chinese banks that do business with North Korea, mimicking the kind of economic approaches and international coalitions successfully used against Iran under the Obama administration. As Beijing continues to push for regional talks, the Trump team rightly argues that two decades of multilateral diplomacy have failed to contain the North. They now argue that China must do more to keep Kim Jong-un under control, or at least contained. Along with asking key Europeans to join in as well, an early entry into the Trump Doctrine might well be: now it's up to you.

But Chinese assertiveness, North Korean provocations, Japanese fears and South Korean political unrest are spreading dangerously across Northeast Asia. Normally, the turmoil there would prompt key Asian players to look to the United States for stability.

But Trump's challenge to traditional American leadership in Asia — champion of free trade, supporter of allies and guardian of peace — has further alarmed Asian capitals. Trump's push to get China to do more could initially give Beijing the lead in a battle with Washington over the Korean peninsula.

But a more dominant Chinese role in Korea carries other risks. American leadership is still seen as essential to the stability and prosperity of the entire region, the center of the global economy. This, despite poor options, makes them all look better when the US is deeply caught in the dangerously evolving Korean equation.

Campbell served as Deputy Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific from 2009 to 2013


Is it possible to legally leave North Korea? ›

North Korean citizens usually cannot freely travel around the country, let alone travel abroad. Emigration and immigration are strictly controlled.

How long would it take a nuclear missile to reach the US from North Korea? ›

Chinese study: North Korean missile could reach US in 33 minutes.

Could the US destroy North Korea? ›

There is little doubt that the United States and South Korea together possess the military capability to bring about the collapse of North Korea through force of arms, but few if any American or South Korean officials would advocate such an approach--with its enormous costs--so long as there are viable alternatives.

Does US have nukes in South Korea? ›

The U.S. once had nuclear weapons in South Korea but withdrew them in 1991. Between the lines: Recent polls have found that most South Koreans support obtaining their own nuclear weapons, and doubt that the U.S. would use its nukes to defend its East Asian ally.

What happens if you get caught leaving North Korea? ›

If the defectors are caught in China, they are repatriated back to North Korea, where rights groups say they often face harsh interrogations and years of punishment, or even death, in kwalliso prison camps (such as the Pukch'ang camp), or in kyohwaso reeducation camps (such as the Chungsan camp or Chongo-ri camp).

Can a US citizen visit North Korea? ›

North Korea - Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to North Korea due to the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals. Exercise increased caution to North Korea due to the critical threat of wrongful detention.

How long would it take for a nuclear bomb to reach the US? ›

It would take a land- based missile about 30 minutes to fly between Russia and the United States; a submarine-based missile could strike in as little as 10 to 15 minutes after launch.

How far can US nukes travel? ›

Its unrefueled range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers).

How far can US missiles reach? ›

Maximum range of operational missiles in the United States in 2021 (in kilometers)
CharacteristicRange of missile in kilometers
Minuteman III: ICBM13,000
Trident D5:SLBM12,000
Tomahwak: Cruise Missile2,500
AGM-86: ALCM2,500
5 more rows
Apr 28, 2023

What did Biden say to North Korea? ›

"Look, a nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies ... or partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime to take such an action," Biden said during a press conference with Yoon.

Does North Korea have weapons that can reach the US? ›

'Surprise ICBM Drill' Involved Hwasong-15, North Korea Says

The Hwasong-17 has a maximum range of 15,000 kilometers, which means it is capable of hitting targets anywhere in the U.S. The Hwasong-15 has the range of about 13,000 kilometers, making it capable of reaching almost all of the continental U.S.

What got the US banned from North Korea? ›

In July 2017, after the death of tourist Otto Warmbier, the United States government banned US citizens from visiting North Korea without special validation starting 1 September 2017. In August 2017, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act was passed.

Does the US have nukes in Japan? ›

In December 2015, the United States Government acknowledged officially for the first time that it had stored nuclear weapons in Okinawa prior to 1972. That U.S. nuclear weapons had been located in Okinawa had long been an open secret.

Which country has the most nuclear weapons? ›

Russia Has The Most Nuclear Weapons In The World—Here Are The Other Countries With The Largest Nuclear Arsenals.

Who gave North Korea nuclear weapons? ›

Phase I. 1956: The Soviet Union begins training North Korean scientists and engineers, giving them "basic knowledge" to initiate a nuclear program. 1958: The U.S. deploys nuclear armed Honest John missiles and 280 mm atomic cannons to South Korea. 1959: North Korea and the USSR sign a nuclear cooperation agreement.

Are North Koreans allowed to go to China? ›

Much like in other Soviet, socialist, or Eastern Bloc countries, North Koreans can travel abroad with permission from the government.

Why can't you go out of North Korea? ›

North Korean law states that leaving the country without permission is a crime of “treachery against the nation,” punishable by death. The 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in the DPRK found Pyongyang committed crimes against humanity against those forcibly returned by China to North Korea.

How many people escape North Korea every year? ›

There are about 76% to 84% of defectors have fled to China or South Korea. Every year, there are over 1,000 people escape from North Korea to some of the most secretive countries in the world.

What countries can US citizens not visit? ›

Learn about your destination
AdvisoryLevelDate Updated
Haiti Travel AdvisoryLevel 4: Do Not TravelMay 17, 2023
Honduras Travel AdvisoryLevel 3: Reconsider TravelMarch 1, 2023
India Travel AdvisoryLevel 2: Exercise Increased CautionOctober 5, 2022
Indonesia Travel AdvisoryLevel 2: Exercise Increased CautionMay 2, 2023
144 more rows

Does North Korea have smartphones? ›

By 2015 the figure had grown to three million. In 2011, 60% of Pyongyang's citizens between the age of 20 and 50 had a cellphone. On June 15, 2011, confirmed that some North Koreans use Apple's iPhones, as well as Nokia's and Samsung's smartphones.

Are there Americans living in North Korea? ›

Americans in North Korea consist mainly of defectors and prisoners of war during and after the Korean War, as well as their locally born descendants. Additionally, there are occasional tours and group travel which consists of Americans via train or plane from China, some with temporal lodging and stay.

Where is the safest place in US during nuclear war? ›

Some estimates name Maine, Oregon, Northern California, and Western Texas as some of the safest locales in the case of nuclear war, due to their lack of large urban centers and nuclear power plants.

What state would get nuked first? ›

The cities that would most likely be attacked are Washington, New York City and Los Angeles. Using a van or SUV, the device could easily be delivered to the heart of a city and detonated. The effects and response planning from a nuclear blast are determined using statics from Washington, the most likely target.

Where would Russia nuke in the US? ›

A Russian nuclear attack would likely focus on high-value targets in North Dakota or Montana.

Does the US have any secret weapons? ›

The U.S. military already has several rudimentary anti-space weapons. The U.S. Navy, for instance, has the SM-3, a missile originally designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missile warheads. Ballistic missile warheads briefly travel the same general route as satellites in low-Earth orbit.

What countries would survive a nuclear war? ›

The study published in the journal Risk Analysis describes Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as the island countries most capable of producing enough food for their populations after an “abrupt sunlight‐reducing catastrophe” such as a nuclear war, super volcano or asteroid strike.

Can one nuke destroy a whole state? ›

A single nuclear weapon can destroy a city and kill most of its people. Several nuclear explosions over modern cities would kill tens of millions of people. Casualties from a major nuclear war between the US and Russia would reach hundreds of millions.

Which country has the best defense system? ›

United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.

Can China hit U.S. with missiles? ›

Pentagon Estimates China Has Doubled Number of Missiles That Can Hit U.S. A new U.S. military report has assessed that its Chinese counterpart has doubled the number of far-reaching missiles capable of hitting the United States over the course of the past year.

Which country has the best missile technology in the world? ›

The most powerful Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) developed in China is The DF-41 which is one of the deadliest ICBMs in the world. Based on an 8-axle launcher vehicle its first test launch took place in 2013 and the second followed in 2014.

Why did the US want Korea? ›

America wanted not just to contain communism - they also wanted to prevent the domino effect. Truman was worried that if Korea fell, the next country to fall would be Japan, which was very important for American trade.

Why does the US go to war with Korea? ›

Concerned that the Soviet Union and Communist China might have encouraged this invasion, President Harry S. Truman committed United States air, ground, and naval forces to the combined United Nations forces assisting the Republic of Korea in its defense.

What is North Korea fighting for? ›

The Korean conflict is an ongoing conflict based on the division of Korea between North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea), both of which claim to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea.

Can the US defend against North Korea missiles? ›

The U.S. only has 44 ground-based interceptors to launch from Alaska and California to destroy an oncoming ICBM in flight. Assuming North Korea's weapons can fit four warheads atop them, it's possible Pyongyang can fire more warheads at the U.S. than America has interceptors.

Is US obligated to defend Korea? ›

It is the understanding of the United States that neither party is obligated, under Article III of the above Treaty, to come to the aid of the other except in case of an external armed attack against such party; nor shall anything in the present Treaty be construed as requiring the United States to give assistance to ...

How powerful are North Korea nukes? ›

Multiple South Korean sources estimate the yield at 6–9 kilotons, while the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources estimates the yield at 40 kilotons.

Who is North Korea allies with? ›

North Korea is often perceived as the "Hermit kingdom", completely isolated from the rest of the world, but North Korea maintains diplomatic relations with 164 independent states. The country also has bilateral relations with the State of Palestine, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and the European Union.

Why is North Korea a threat to the world? ›

North Korea's long-range missile and nuclear programs represent the region's most immediate security challenge. Any major instability or conflict on the Korean Peninsula would have severe strategic, economic and humanitarian repercussions.

Is there a Internet in North Korea? ›

Nearly all of North Korea's Internet traffic is routed through China. Since February 2013, foreigners have been able to access the Internet using the 3G telecommunications network provided by Koryolink. Permission to access the Internet remains tightly restricted.

Which US state has nukes? ›

This map is private.

Here are the locations of nuclear weapons in the United States: Naval Base Kitsap (Washington) Malstrom Air Force Base (Montana) Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada)

Which US states has the most nukes? ›

The location with the most nuclear weapons by far is the large Kirtland Underground Munitions and Maintenance Storage Complex south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Most of the weapons in this location are retired weapons awaiting dismantlement at the Pantex Plant in Texas.

Does Mexico have nuclear weapons? ›

Mexico is one of few countries possessing the technical capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, it has renounced them and has pledged to only use its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes following the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1967.

Can the US win a nuclear war against Russia? ›

Post-Cold War evidence reveals that American naval pressure had a major impact on Soviet policy making: Despite Moscow's priority of armaments over all other state needs, the U.S. showed it would still be able to fight and win a nuclear war.

Who has the strongest nuclear bomb in the world? ›

Tsar Bomba (in Russian, Царь-бомба) is the Western nickname for the Soviet RDS-220 (РДС-220) hydrogen bomb (code name Vanya). Detonated by the Soviet Union on October 30, 1961, Tsar Bomba is the largest nuclear device ever detonated and the most powerful man-made explosion in history.

Can North Korea nukes reach US? ›

The Hwasong-17 has a maximum range of 15,000 kilometers, which means it is capable of hitting targets anywhere in the U.S. The Hwasong-15 has the range of about 13,000 kilometers, making it capable of reaching almost all of the continental U.S.

Could a North Korean missile hit the Central US in 33 minutes? ›

The North Korean missile could hit the central US in 1,997 seconds, or about 33 minutes, if the US missile defence network failed to intercept it, according to the simulation.

How fast can a nuclear missile travel? ›

The United States, Russia, North Korea, India, Iran, South Korea, Israel, France, China and Pakistan have developed several long-range subsonic cruise missiles. These missiles have a range of over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) and fly at about 800 kilometres per hour (500 mph).

What is the longest distance a nuclear missile can travel? ›

ICBMs are usually launched from inside the borders of the deploying countries. China's DF-41 can travel 7,456 to 9,321 miles, the greatest distance of any long-range missile, according to Arms Control Association, an organization that promotes effective arms control policies.


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3. 3 Things You Can’t Do in North Korea 🇰🇵
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4. Kim Jong Un’s daughter shares the spotlight with nuclear missiles
5. ‘North Korea won’t stop…’: Kim Jong Un’s new warning after ‘monster missile’ test
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6. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un orders scaling up of weapons-grade nuclear materials | Latest | WION


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