North Korea’s Missile Testing: Nuclear Weapons as Weapon of the Future?


Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, launched a test submarine ballistic missile on May 9, 2015. There is no doubt, that for years North Korea has made various threats, especially toward the United States regarding the capability of its rapidly expanding nuclear program. The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack became credible with its testing of one of its missiles. Although most claim that it would take years for North Korea to develop a missile that could touch US soil, there is a possibility that a missile could reach Japanese waters. The United States and Japan have the right to use pre-emptive strikes on North Korea, if a nuclear attack is viewed as viable. This is highly disturbing. The pace at which North Korea is developing its nuclear arsenal, it may only be a few years before the United States and Japan take nuclear action against the country. Further, witnessing the missile launch in action only hardens the view that North Korea is an imminent threat that needs to be stopped.

Despite global concerns and pleas, there is a slim chance that North Korea will back down from its intensive and rapidly expanding nuclear development program. In addition, the United Nations sanctions placed on the nation have proved incapable of even slowing down its nuclear program. But where does this leave global stability? For years, Iran has been widely suspected, most notably by the United States and Israel, of developing its own nuclear program despite the proliferation treaty. Countries involved in the proliferation treaty are committed to nuclear disarmament, and it is no surprise that North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. Further, because countries such as the United States, the global hegemon, and organizations like the United Nations have barely enforced strict measures and consequences, North Korea finds no reason to halt its nuclear development. In this sense, Iran may pursue its nuclear program, seeing as there is no threat from the global community to punish violators.

Does North Korea’s nuclear testing, along with the possibility of an Iranian revival of its nuclear program signify a global crisis? It could very well mean a shift in the balance of power, especially pertaining to the use of force. It could also lead to the possibility of the revival of nuclear weapons as the default use of force. In other words, the “boots on the ground” method used during times of war may be replaced by the more extreme option of nuclear attacks toward the perpetrators. Is this the direction our world is headed? Is there a possibility of a WWIII, not with battling armies, but instead a real reenactment of a Cold War? Although these are questions to consider in the future, the future is not so distant, especially in the wake of a North Korean nuclear missile test.