Why North Korea’s Next Missile Launch Could Be Its Last

North Korea’s continuing development of its nuclear program and provocative missile launches may have finally placed the rogue nation on a collision course toward destruction.

As the war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un escalates, the probability of armed conflict increases. Both leaders launched barrages of threats at each other via the media and, of all places, Twitter. If the stakes were not so high, it would be rather comical to see two world leaders exchange insults over social media, in a kind of “flame war.” However, this type of discourse could lead to real flames.

With each new missile launch, North Korea has become more and more reckless. Kim Jong-un wants to show the U.S. it has long-range nuclear strike capability. Apparently emboldened by a lack of response from the rest of the world, North Korea is continuing to move with deliberation.

In fact, North Korea has already proven it possesses missiles able to hit Guam, Japan, South Korea, and probably the mainland United States, but the question now is if it can attach a nuclear warhead to them.

Since intelligence analysts have underestimated North Korea’s ingenuity in the past, there is a lingering concern the country may already have nuclear missile capability. If this turns out to be true, no one under its ever-widening strike umbrella is safe.

Despite North Korea’s seeming capacity to conduct nuclear tests and missile launches with impunity, there is one thing Kim Jong-un may not have planned for – A U.S. lead by Donald Trump. On several occasions, Trump has displayed unpredictability that borderlines capriciousness. Whether it is throwing favored staff members under the bus or reversing himself on issues he appeared to be concrete on, Trump has shown he can and will turn on a dime.

Almost everyone knows the President has a propensity to sometimes gravitate towards the eccentric, however, the current situation raises a couple of intriguing questions. First, would Trump actually unleash the American military machine on North Korea? The likely response would be yes from many Americans, but there is still a more complex answer to this question.

north korea launches new missile
A US B1 Bomber drops bombs during a training exercise. [Image by Getty Images]

As commander-in-chief of U.S. military forces, Trump has many options at his disposal for dispatching a belligerent North Korea. For example, he could order an electronic hit on it. If anyone out there thinks the United States lacks the capacity to launch devastating cyber-warfare against an enemy they are sadly mistaken. Even though the secretive nation has a tight grip on the internet, it still must maintain a certain amount of connectivity to the rest of the web and there lies a means of penetration.

If the U.S. turned the full might of its cyber-weapons against it, North Korea would likely have its electronic infrastructure turned into a useless smoking pile of motherboards. Another possibility is covert operations like the one that led to the demise of uber-terrorist, Osama bin Laden. The U.S. possesses some of the deadliest, special operations forces in the world. These silent warriors are exceptionally skilled at infiltration, sabotage, and even assassination.

There is also the option of simply bombing North Korea and its missiles back to the Stone Age. America has an impressive fleet of bombers, from the supersonic B-1 Lancer, to the venerable B-52 and the stealthy B-2 Spirit. Trump could even call up salvos of ship and submarine-based cruise missiles.

Perhaps most frightening of all is the nuclear option. Although the US would probably not waste an ICBM on North Korea when bombers and cruise missiles can easily be fitted with nuclear warheads, such an attack is available. Trump skipping directly to this option is highly unlikely but if North Korea became brazen enough to launch its missiles at the US, retaliation would undoubtedly be swift.

The second question is if Trump decided to make good on his threat of “fire and fury” does he have the authority to act unilaterally against North Korea? Shockingly and terrifyingly, the answer to this question is apparently an ominous “yes.” While there is some debate over whether the President can order an attack on North Korea, the consensus among experts is that he can do so, up to and including a nuclear strike, according to the Atlantic.

“The Constitution may give Congress the ability to declare war, but in reality, it has little ability to stop the President if he’s determined to strike North Korea,” CNN’s Jeremy Herb said. “That’s because the President has his own authority as commander in chief to defend the country from threats, and in practice, the Executive Branch has used that authority for a range of military actions.”

Congress could try and pass legislation preventing unilateral action by the President but this could create more problems than it solves. Any law passed to rein in Trump’s attack ability could also prevent a response to a first strike from another country.

So, does Trump’s cryptic “calm before the storm” statement mean the days of Kim Jong-un’s North Korea are numbered? If another missile is launched, we may soon find out.

[Featured Image by AP Images]