India’s World – Korean crisis: is the war the only option?
North Korea has recently in 2017 improved its nuclear weapons capability, increasing tensions against the US and its allies. It has been threatening US and neighbour South Korea by successfully conducting intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) tests. US president Donald Trump has also responded back by tough words pointing that US can reply by its military solutions with fire and fury. These latest developments are also compared to the Cuban missile crisis (1962) between Soviet and US during the Cold War.
Korea was divided into two zones along the 38th parallel after the end of WW II in 1945, with the northern half of the peninsula occupied by the Soviet Union and southern half by the US. Before this it was under Japanese control since 1910 which had industrialised the peninsula and exploited Koreans mainly for benefiting Japan.
- North Korea-US relations are hostile till date that developed primarily during the Korean War. The two nations are separated by the Pacific Ocean. Since the Korean War, US has maintained a strong military presence in South Korea.
- North Korea (DPRK) is a one-party state under a totalitarian dictatorship. It maintains a huge number of military forces as per its ‘military-first’ policy. It has a military nuclear weapons program. Also, after US and Russia, it ranks 3rd in possessions of chemical weapons.
- North Korea has been conducting nuclear tests since 2006. As a result, several sanctions have been imposed by various countries and international bodies. Latest Resolution 2371, by UN in August 2017 tightened economic sanctions for the 6th time over DPRK in response to its July 2017 missile tests. The latest tests have resulted in missiles which flew over Japan and DPRK threatening Guam(US).
- US which has all three types of weapons of mass destruction, a very strong army, naval and air forces also responded with strong words. Trump has also warned of sending US Carl Winson super carrier and its carrier strike group to Korea.
The use of any kind of weapons of mass destruction or armed conflicts on large scale will lead to :
- Causalities and losses as had occurred during the Korean War or the larger scale world wars which involved more countries of the world.
- Major economic problems in Korea and other countries like Japan, South Korea and China.
- Rise in debt levels of US.
- Severe effect on global supply chains.
- South Korea is the biggest producer of liquid crystal displays in the world (40% of the global total) and the second biggest of semiconductors (17% market share). It is also a key automotive manufacturer and home to the world’s three biggest shipbuilders. If South Korean production is badly damaged by a war there would be shortages across the world which would last for a few years.
- Migration of refugees from North Korea to China, Japan or nearby countries.
It should be better if some diplomatic solutions instead of this continued “frozen war” involving both show of words and missile tests comes up. Also, China which supplies a lot of different supplies and aid to DPRK and is also its largest trading partner should take some steps which help towards controlling these tests of the totalitarian North Korea.