It’s official, Kim Jong-Un ‘Declared War’ on the United States
Exactly sixty-three years and two days after the conclusion of the Korean War, Kim Jong Un has “declared war” on the United States and her ally, South Korea. This declaration, which was received by the rest of the world as more of a ‘whimper than a bang’, was made in retaliation to Kim Jong Un being placed on the US government’s list of sanctioned individuals, along with ten other members of Un’s government.
These grim tidings out of Pyongyang mark the final breakdown of extremely strained US – North Korean relations. North Korea broke its only form of communication with the United States government only weeks before, stating that interaction with Washington will be treated “under war-time law”. Unsurprisingly, defense measures have been implemented, culminating in the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missle system in South Korea.
This deployment was met with suspicion and protest from not only North Korea, but Russia and China as well. According to the Russian foreign ministry, such actions “would undermine stability in the region”. This statement of regional instability, of course, comes years too late. North and South Korea have never actually signed a formal peace agreement after, what might begin to be referred to as, the “First” Korean War. The peninsula has effectively been a geo-political powder keg for decades. However, this instability has intensified in the past six years since the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship which resulted in the tragic demise of fourty-six South Korean sailors. An international investigation concluded that the cause of the sinking was from a torpedo explosion fired from none other than a North Korean Yeono-class miniature submarine. On July 9th 2010, the United Nations Security Council issued a Presidential Statement condemning this wanton act of aggression. However, no armed retaliation from South Korea followed.
In light of events such as the sinking of the Cheonan, it might seem that full-fledged conflict is inevitable. However, this recent declaration of war might simply be heavy-handed political posturing. As aggressive as the North Korean government appears to be, it remains doubtful that they would engage in armed conflict with South Korea and the United States without the support of their larger allies to the north, Russia and China. Although these two governments condemn the sanctions placed on Kim Jong Un’s regime, it is very unlikely that they would join in a wartime-alliance against South Korea and her allies, especially since Kim Jong Un has himself strained these relationships.
In conducting nuclear tests at the beginning of January this year, North Korea was in direct opposition to China’s firm stance on nuclear anti-proliferation. China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “To realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, prevent nuclear proliferation and safeguard peace and stability of Northeast Asia is China’s firm position. We strongly urge the DPRK side to honor its commitment to denuclearization and stop taking actions that worsen the situation.”
As South Korea’s scheduled military drills are approaching this coming month, drills that North Korea views as open southern aggression, it remains to be seen what this conflict has in store for the future. Will North Korea actually engage South Korean armed forces, or will this be yet another empty threat from Pyongyang? The nations of the world hold their collective breath.