The North Korean nuclear problem

How a country the size of Pennsylvania has the chance to destabilize the whole world


Shealah Craighead

President Trump reassuring South Korean President Moon that the U.S. will always stand by South Korea

Michael Melkonian, Staff Writer

After 25 years of the United States kicking the can down the road in regards to North Korea’s nuclear program, America should should start ramping up the pressure on North Korea in order for them not to have the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear missile. This is an extremely dangerous situation, mainly because the North Koreans can blackmail the United States and its allies with their nuclear missiles, something the United States should not tolerate.

They will also give inspiration to other nuclear hungry countries like Iran that despise the United States. The North Korean nuclear problem started off in 1994, when President Bill Clinton gave $5 billion to North Korea in order for them to suspend their nuclear ambitions until 2003. The North Koreans did not comply with this agreement, as they waved off the UN nuclear inspectors and continued to work on their nuclear program. This was the first clue that honest negotiation with North Korea would not be possible. The North Koreans have been building their nuclear arsenal since then and now have the capability to have a nuclear warhead on medium range missiles with the capability of nuclear warheads on long range missiles not far out of sight.

North Korean propaganda posters depicting a powerful armed forces

This massive nuclear buildup has happened mainly under President Obama’s tenure, with his policy of “strategic patience” being the main reason for such a failure. This policy allowed the North Koreans to build up their nuclear arsenal without major pressure and put us in the predicament that we are in today. This leaves President Trump with very few options. One would be a massive preemptive strike on North Korean nuclear facilities which will cripple most of their nuclear arsenal, but the possibility of some sites that weren’t bombed launching nuclear missiles is just too high and the retaliatory attack from North Korea on South Korea will lead to “a death toll not seen since World War II,” said Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in an article written with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Wall Street Journal. Another would be to completely cut off trade with countries that do business with North Korea, which is China. This could succeed in stopping the buildup of nuclear missiles but it will cripple the global economy and send the world into a recession. The third option would be to leave the North Koreans alone, which is completely unacceptable.

The best option that the president has out of those three would be the second one. We have to take North Korea down not with “fire and fury” as President Trump has said, but with economic devastation. The Soviet Union, a country 20 times more powerful than North Korea, didn’t fall due to American bombs; it fell from American economic policies that forced the Soviet Union to spend itself out of existence.

What is Kim Jong Un’s game plan?

We have to implement a version of that with North Korea. We must force China, North Korea’s lifeline, to stop trading with North Korea, which can be easily achieved if we threaten them with the cut-off of American trade. This might mean the layoff of a few million American workers, but it will also lead to the layoff of hundreds of millions of workers in China who work for U.S. companies, which would cripple the Chinese economy. We are already doing this in the form of new sanctions adopted by the UN last week, but we will have to push on even further.  Once this is accomplished, North Korea will experience devastation similar to the early 1990s when the Soviet aid stopped; only this time, China won’t be there to bail them out.

The North Korean issue has been a problem for decades, but it is a problem that still can be solved with diplomatic and economic solutions. War should always be the last resort,and we should exert all of the diplomatic and economic options before we get to that point. If the United States plays their cards right, they might be able to achieve the end of the dictatorship in North Korea without bloodshed, restore freedom back to the oppressed North Korean people, and restore peace to the world.