North Korea’s Nuclear Tests

North Korea’s new nuclear testing has created insecurity for U.S. hegemony and security. Kim Jong-un visited the test site of the “ultramodern tactical weapon,” which allegedly would ensure the state’s security and protect North Korea like a “steel wall.” The testing of the highly developed weapon has occurred in a sensitive time period, with U.S. hopes for a nuclear disarmament and with Pyongyang’s recent release of an American prisoner.

The U.S. have remained optimistic that President Donald Trump will persuade Kim Jong-un to end their nuclear weapons program. According to a spokesman of the U.S. State Department, “we remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled,” yet the more North Korea advances their weaponry, the more competition persists between the two nations. Since the historic summit between the two world leaders in Singapore in June, there has been little tangible headway in negotiations; while Trump and Kim discussed the possibility of denuclearization and diplomacy on the Korean peninsula, no specific agreement has yet been laid down. The future of U.S. international relations in the Asia Pacific are still very much uncertain.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shared an undated photograph of Kim on a beach with other military officials and the specifics of the weapon were not clarified. As the weapon has been described as “tactical,” it can be assumed that the weapon is not fitting with larger strategic weaponry such as ballistic missiles or a nuclear bomb. The U.S. has long considered itself the guardians of Western democracy, even when not being specifically involved in a particular conflict, so any external use of nuclear weapons must be controlled.

A further update to U.S.-North Korea relations regards the recent release of U.S. citizen Bruce Bryon Lowrance on 16th of November. He has been imprisoned since October and allegedly entered the country illegally from China. This was a positive step for North Korea who have historically held U.S. prisoners for much longer, often being accused of holding them as “bargaining chips.”  In response to this, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was grateful for both North Korea and Sweden for uniting to release the prisoner.

To avoid a nuclear war with North Korea, the U.S. has stated that sanctions are vital until Kim ends his desire for nuclear weapons. However, North Korea, who are still much smaller in relation to the United States, view their weaponry as a form of securing their region and not starting a global war. This begins to create a couple of questions: “Is it necessary for the U.S. to be threatened by their weapons?” and “Why is it not possible for other states outside of the U.S. to have their own nuclear capability?”

Aisha Parker