The Cold War should have taught us that we were fortunate to have escaped the threat of nuclear annihilation once. At the same time that one nuclear-armed country was threatening another in the United Nations Security Council, more than 120 nuclear weapons-free countries were polishing the text of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
On July 4, North Korea conducted a missile test that, according to most analysts, demonstrated continued progress towards fielding an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. Shortly thereafter, the US and South Korean militaries conducted a highly visible missile exercise of their own, launching accurate tactical missiles that could quickly strike targets throughout much of North Korea, perhaps even threatening North Korea’s leadership. Responsible US diplomacy is urgently needed to de-escalate this potentially catastrophic nuclear flashpoint.
Recent alarming actions have continued rounds of threat and counter-threat that have gathered momentum since early this year, with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile tests alternating with massive joint US-North Korea military exercises, deployments of US naval and air forces close to North Korea’s shores and flight tests of US ICBMs — systems already fully tested, deployed and capable of raining hundreds of nuclear warheads on North Korea in short order. Although typically described as “routine,” the US government uses these tests to send a message. Prior to a similar test in early 2016, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-nuclear-idUSKCN0VZ02R" …read more