The possible outcome of a new US – Korea war has gone from being an outrageous speculation to something being seriously considered in recent weeks. As reported by the Associated Press, the current confrontation between the Trump administration and North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program seems to escalate every day. But what would actually happen in a renewed US – Korea war?
The US – Korea War Buildup
According to CNN, the United States has just sent additional naval forces into the area, including the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group. Recent naval exercises near South Korea involving the Carl Vinson also included US Special Forces, which presumably would be used to take out Kim Jong-un and the upper levels of the North Korean government and command structure in the event of a US – Korea war breaking out again.
Along with this, the US recently installed the antimissile system THAAD in South Korea to intercept any missiles North Korea might choose to launch. This new system is supposedly superior to the previous Patriot antimissile system the US used.
On the other hand, North Korea has been working hard to develop weapons of mass destruction – particularly nuclear weapons – to insulate itself should the US–Korea war restart. Over the last few years, North Korea has carried out several tests of nuclear weapons.
In addition to this, North Korea has been constructing and testing short range, intermediate range and – more recently – long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that would allow it to deliver nuclear weapons. Last year, they even launched an experimental missile from a submarine. However, most experts agree that North Korean nuclear weapons are currently too big to be launched on a missile.
The Reality of a US – Korea War
It’s also important to recognize that even though North Korea has been pushing new weapons development, it also has a tendency to exaggerate its capabilities. For example, five years ago North Korea held a parade in which it pretended to display intercontinental ballistic missiles. The problem was that they were obvious fakes.
Certainly, North Korea has large numbers of short to medium-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in South Korea, Japan and maybe even the U.S. military bases in Guam. And because of its nuclear tests – and our satellite surveillance photos – we know that North Korea has the capability of making nuclear warheads and likely has at least 10 in its possession.
However, as mentioned above, these warheads are probably too big to even use. And even if they are not, North Korea might not get a chance to use its nukes. The current US approach to warfare focuses on destroying the enemy’s infrastructure, defenses, and communications. Essentially, the officers in charge of any nuclear weapons in North Korea wouldn’t be able to get the order to launch.
Given all the above, most experts contend that during a US – Korea war, North Korea would lose in a matter of weeks. Of course, this assumes – perhaps inaccurately – that China would not intervene on behalf of North Korea. This was an assumption the US made the last time it was at war in Korea – at least until Chinese divisions started pouring across the border.
There’s also the impact that a new US – Korea war would have on South Korea. While it’s unlikely – short of a Chinese intervention – North Korea could stand up to the United States for long, it does have over 1 million troops it can send crashing into South Korea. Even aside from direct attacks across the border, a number of tunnels have been found designed to allow North Korean troops to pop up behind the lines. It’s likely there are more that haven’t been found.
Then there is the high likelihood of a staggering artillery barrage on Seoul – the capital of South Korea. During a renewed U.S. – Korea war, North Korea would almost certainly use the thousands of artillery pieces it has in position along its border to utterly destroy Seoul, which is only miles from the border. So while the US would almost certainly emerge victorious from another US – Korea war, the consequences for both North and South Korea would almost certainly be devastating.
[Featured Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]