World War 3 is becoming a frequent topic online, with many people wondering whether a North Korea conflict will draw the United States, China, and Russia into an end of the world nuclear war. All three countries are sending forces into the area – the United States on land and sea and China and Russia along the North Korean border.
The Trump administration is currently calling for tougher UN sanctions on North Korea. But given that the nation's leader Kim Jong-un continues to ignore the ones already imposed, this seems unlikely to work. As many commentators have noted, North Korea has apparently determined that its only guarantee of continuing existence into the 21st century is the possession of nuclear weapons.
In addition to these nuclear weapons, North Korea has also moved forward with its ballistic missile program. The tensions resulting from these North Korean actions are at the core of increasing fears about World War 3 – or even a nuclear war – breaking out between the United States, China, and Russia.
As reported by CNN, Donald Trump suggested late Thursday that "there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea." Currently, the United States has moved the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its support vessels into the area, along with the USS Michigan – a nuclear-powered Ohio class submarine carrying as many as 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles. It may also be carrying Special Forces members – such as a Navy SEAL team.
South Korea is also preparing its forces for any potential conflict with North Korea. Should World War 3 – or even a conflict confined to the Korean peninsula itself – breakout, South Korea will almost certainly bear the brunt of the casualties and the destruction during the early days of the war. Unless, of course, any confrontation actually goes nuclear, in which a global holocaust becomes a real possibility.
For their part, the Chinese appear to be mobilizing forces along the northern border of North Korea. Most of North Korea's northern territory borders China, which means that any refugees or army deserters fleeing from North Korea would almost certainly try to head north into China. The Chinese – not surprisingly – are very reluctant to let this happen, which explains their mobilization.
The assumption by the current United States administration that China would never sacrifice its current prosperity to actually start World War 3 over North Korea may be a miscalculation. The United States was certain during the last Korean War that the Chinese would not get involved, but the moment the United States looked as though it was going to win, Chinese divisions started pouring across the border.
While the Chinese themselves only have about 350 nuclear weapons – if you can use the word "only" when talking about hydrogen bombs – that would still be sufficient during any hypothetical World War 3 for the Chinese to totally annihilate the United States.
And then there's Russia. While Russia only has a narrow corridor of land actually touching the North Korean border, as reported by the Financial Tribune, Russia is still in the process of mobilizing forces in the area. And whereas China's nuclear arsenal is somewhat limited as compared to that of the United States, that can hardly be said about Russia.
Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads, and these warheads are loaded onto a number of delivery systems around the world. In addition to the standard missile silos, Russia has nuclear missile submarines that can fire nuclear warheads at the United States from just off our coast.
And of course, Russia has bombers that can also deliver nuclear warheads. So if the United States did become involved in a military action in North Korea that somehow dragged in China and Russia, the ensuing World War 3 would almost certainly be the last war humanity would ever have to concern itself with.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]