For North Korea, Nuclear Strike May Not Be Suicide After All

Inside a North Korean 'theory of victory'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2017 3:39 PM CDT
For North Korea, Nuclear Strike May Not Be Suicide After All
In this image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, broadcast in a news bulletin by North Korea's KRT, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receives a military briefing in Pyongyang.   (KRT via AP Video)

"Are we really willing to risk Los Angeles or Chicago in retaliation for an attack on a US military base in the region? Probably not," nuclear strategy specialist Vipin Narang tells the AP. And that's exactly the calculation that gives North Korea a small shot at "winning" in a nuclear conflict, challenging the assumption that launching a nuclear weapon would be automatic suicide for the country. If North Korea feels threatened to the point of using a nuclear weapon, a first target would likely be a US military base in Japan; North Korea would then use its long-range nukes to threaten the US mainland and avoid a retaliatory strike. Experts say this is Kim Jong Un's "theory of victory"—one that President Trump may be attempting to combat with an unsuccessful version of the "madman strategy." Here's what else you need to know about North Korea's most-recent missile launch:

  • Tuesday's missile launch over Japan seems likely to result in even more sanctions against North Korea. But after UN sanctions Aug. 5 targeted millions of dollars in seafood, coal, iron ore, and more, is there anything left to sanction? CNN reports two options are oil and Chinese banks.
  • After Tuesday's missile launch, Trump said "all options are on the table." This was, all things considered, a "measured" response from the president, according to the Atlantic. It was an official statement instead of a tweet, didn't threaten "fire and fury," and avoided calling Kim Jong Un a "wack job."
  • The Guardian reports on the scary morning had by residents of Japan, who were awoken around 6am Tuesday by a government missile warning on their phones. They were given less than 10 minutes to get to a shelter or sturdy building as sirens and special broadcasts blared.
  • The missile test impacted US markets, with the Dow dropping more than 100 points Tuesday morning, Reuters reports. The stock market would recover by the afternoon as the threat passed.
  • Korea expert Stephan Haggard tells the Washington Post that Tuesday was another example of how "weirdly conservative" Kim Jong Un is—carrying out provocative actions with just enough restraint to avoid an actual response. For example, pointing the missile toward Japan, not Guam.
  • Finally, Russia's deputy foreign minister blamed the US and South Korea for Tuesday's nuclear test and came out against further sanctions against North Korea, saying they haven't prevented missile tests in the past and won't in the future, Newsweek reports.
(Read more North Korea stories.)

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