Amid rising volatility around North Koream Kim Jong-un’s leadership, US-Korea’s restraint against North Korea is failing, and an armed clash crisis is escalating, according to an American expert’s analysis.
His analysis points out the need to expand nuclear-deterrent capabilities against the possibility that North Korea will dispatch strategic nuclear weapons for a combat arrangement in the next three years.
Patrick Cronin at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) published on March 27 (local time) a policy report titled “If deterrence against North Korea fails: rethinking Korean armed conflict.” Cronin is an American expert nd researcher on North Korea.
The Korean peninsula’s current exacerbated crisis stems from entangled factors such as North Korea’s reinforced assault capability including nuclear missile development, the possibility of military provocations due to internal instability, America’s defense budget reduction, and weakened US-Korea readiness against the North’s provocations, according to Cronin’s analysis.
The report said, “Internally unstable Kim Jong-un leadership keeps expanding their military capacity, while America has a dispute over prioritizing military defense expenditures. US-South Korea alliance has difficulty deterring North Korea while securing attack and defense capabilities against war.”
The American expert pointed out, “US-South Korea alliance surpasses North Korea in military strength, but does not seem to be well prepared for all-out emergencies such as an armed clash. For example, they seem to have a well-established plan against the North’s provocation or internal disturbance but underestimate the possibility of war or war escalation.”
In this regards, he stressed that “There is a real fear that US-South Korea’s deterrence against North Korea may fail, in the short term, which is why American officials are counting Korea as the most dangerous powder keg in Northeast Asia.”
“It is highly likely that the Kim Jong-un leadership will take a more violent path for its survival,” said Cronin while pointing out North Korea may initiate military provocation. He also stressed, “South-North Korean armed clash can be ignited instantly, without any warning, like a flint stone.”
“It is getting more likely that US-Korea retaliation against North Korea’s provocation will lead to an armed clash. Korea’s stance is that it will respond with three shots if one shot is fired by the North, and a US official said their strategy is not eye for an eye, but destroying their glasses on top of their eye,” presented the researcher.
He also revealed that “South Korea has not experienced all-out war for the last sixty years and has a conventional view that the status quo will last. However, underestimating a potential crisis will be a careless and grave mistake.”
Regarding South Korea’s military capability, he assessed, “South Korea seems to be superb in defense capability, but lacks in attack capability. It is weak in transparent and integrated strategies such as ordering and controlling systems against minute war.”
He added, “Kim Jong-un, in his code-like new year’s address, called for wrapping up of the miniaturization of nuclear warheads, which seems to refer to strategic nuclear weapons. North Korea seems to think that the use of small nuclear weapons will become a new leverage against South Korea as a simple threat, without causing nuclear retaliation.”
He finally stressed, “We need to prepare ourselves against North Korea’s placing strategic nuclear weapons for combat arrangement in three years and reinforce their deterrence. US should try to expand its deterrence effort against the North’s potential raid capability.”