Two weeks have passed since North Korea test-launched the Hwasong-15, Pyongyang’s most advanced nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). Prior to this November 29 test, there was debate among Korean affairs experts over whether a seeming suspension of missile tests by North Korea (no test had been conducted since September 15) might be a gesture on Pyongyang’s part to hint that they may be ready to talk. But the most recent test ended such debate, at least for now. More importantly, the latest test confirmed what U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said months ago — that North Korea is “the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security.”
In the days immediately following the test, most of the world’s attention was on the question of “now what?” — and appropriately so. U.S. President Donald Trump said, several hours after the test, that the United States “will take care of it” and that the missile launch is “a situation that we will handle.” The challenge that North Korea presents, however, is that there is no good way for the United States to “take care of it,” unless not only the United States but China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the countries that are members of the United Nations Command in South Korea agree that military action is the only way to proceed.
This article was originally published in The Diplomat on December 12, 2017. Read the full article here.