Like his father, Kim Jong-Un is best compared to a bellicose 13-year old child who stomps his feet and makes a fuss until he gets his way. Unlike an ordinary child, this one’s tantrums come with high stakes. The young Mr. Kim has now taken his game of chicken as far as it can go without actually pulling the trigger. The series of exchanges and threats are indeed worrisome for Washington and its allies; China, Japan, South Korea and the United States are taking it all seriously. Is Kim Jong-Un dumb enough to actually follow through?
According to a statement released by state-run KCNA, North Korea has stated that it is in a “state of war” with South Korea. “Situations on the Korean Peninsula, which are neither in peace or at war, have come to an end,” the statement read. “From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly.”
We think not. While North Korea has a standing army of more than a million soldiers – making it one of the world’s largest — approximately 12,000 artillery guns, over 800 fighter jets and thousands of tanks, many elements of its military are outdated and would not be able to sustain a ground war with South Korea and the United States. While Pyongyang has warned that it will strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear-armed ICBM’s, by all accounts it lacks the technical ability to do so. It has yet to successfully test a long-range missile, nor has North Korea been able to miniaturize a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on an ICBM. The greater threat is short and medium-range missiles, so while U.S. territory is not at risk, Japan and South Korea certainly are. Kim Jong-Un knows, however, that any use of nuclear or chemical weapons by him would result in the same by the U.S.