Launching a new ballistic missile toward Japan, 33-year-old North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un dared 71-year-old President Donald Trump to exercise the military option. While the first missile launch since Sept. 15, Kim sends a loud message to Trump that he’s working feverishly on a nuclear-tipped Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] to hit the United States. Trump warned Kim on several occasions that continued nuclear threats against the U.S. would result in a fierce military strike to neutralize North Korea’s nuke and ballistic missile program. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. Nov. 27 of provoking war. “We are alarmed that in the last two months when North Korea conducted no tests or rocket launches, it seemed that Washington was not happy about that, and tried to do things that would irritate and provoke Pyongyang,” said Lavrov, blaming the White House.
Lavrov’s really concerned around the globe, especially in Japan and South Korea, that the U.S. has deployed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD[ missile defense systems. While Lavrov knows THAAD is entirely defensive, the Kremlin considers it offensive because it neutralizes first strike capability. Russian President Vladimir Putin operates the Russian Federation on intimidation and willingness for rapid deployment of conventional forces. When Putin rolled the Russian army into Crimea March 1, 2014, there was no answer from Ukraine, but, more importantly, from NATIO. Lavrov said Sept. 24 that the U.S. would not strike North Korea because it’s a nuclear-armed state. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon considers North Korean a nuclear-armed state yet. Pentagon officials expect North Korea to have an operational nuclear-tipped ICBM in 2018.
Firing another missile invites Trump to exercise the military option, despite Lavrov’s insistence that it’s Trump, not Kim, that’s provoking war. Firing its missile from Pyongsong, close to the North Korean capital Pyongyang, shows, as expected, that Kim has no intent of going to the bargaining table when it comes to its nuke and ballistic missile program. U.N. and European Union officials hoped that diplomacy would settle the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Trump has drawn his red line when it comes to permitting Kim to develop a nuclear-tipped ICBM. One way or another, Trump will have to exercise the military option if he’s going to fulfill his promise to disarm Kim’s nukes and ballistic missiles. When Trump put North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism watch list Nov. 20, it was a matter of time before Kim launched a new missile or detonated a nuke.
Kim’s nuclear threats against the U.S. leave Trump no other option but to neutralize an imminent threat to U.S. national security. While China and Russia are prepared to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea, the U.S. is not. North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong warned the U.S. Sept. 23 that it was “inevitable” the U.S. would be hit with a North Korean ballistic missile. North Korea’s official CNA news agency said Sept. 13 it would turn the U.S. to “ashes and darkness,” “sink” Japan and “wipe out” South Koran. Trump takes those threats seriously, preparing the Pentagon to exercise the military option whether given. Trump imposed new shipping sanctions on North Korea Nov. 20, placing the Stalinist state back on the U.S. Terror Watch-List. Calling the designation as “serious provocation,” it’s no accident that Pyongyang fired a new ballistic missile today.
North Korean continues to fire rockets at Japan, either falling short or going over Japan’s islands. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Trump Nov. 20 for placing North Korea back on state sponsor of terrorism list. With North Korean missiles flying in Japan’s direction, including the one fired today, Abe has no problem with Trump’s get-tough policy. Whether that policy results in the military option or not, Japan’s ready to back any U.S. action. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed today’s launch dropped into the Sea of Japan, about 200 miles from the coast. Abe wants North Korea to cease-and-desist firing rockets at Japan. To keep Kim from getting a nuclear-tipped ICBM, Trump’s going to have to take military action soon. Giving North Korea more time weighs heavily against stopping its nukes and ballistic missiles.
Sending three carrier strike groups to the Korean Peninsula, the Pentagon’s getting ready to exercise the military option should Kim continue his provocations. With all the U.S. military assets in the Pacific Rim, Kim’s threats of nuclear war won’t stop U.S. air strikes. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been put on notice that if Kim doesn’t disarm, prepare for a U.S. strike. Military experts believe that Kim would unload his conventional arsenal of fixed artillery pieces on Ssoul. While no one wants war, the U.S. can’t afford to let Kim develop a nuke-tipped ICBM. One more nuclear test or another missile launch could trigger the U.S. military option, despite the risks. Letting Kim get an operational ICBM is unthinkable to anyone responsible for U.S. national security. Whether or not today’s missile-launch triggers a U.S. response is anyone’s guess. But some response gets closer.