US mulls options on North Korea

  • Elisabeth Gheorghe
  • 8.7.2017 09:29

Washington employed tough rhetoric after North Korea fired its newly-developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) - capable of carrying nuclear warheads and reportedly able to reach US states Alaska and Hawai - into Japanese waters on 4 July. However, its options remain limited. Four principal measures are a covert action, diplomacy, economic sanctions or the use of military force.

One of the most heavily sanctioned states, North Korea, faces restrictions on arms trade, international finance, and global commerce. Multilateral and US sanctions have not prevented Pyongyang from advancing its nuclear aspirations. Along with diplomacy, the US and its Asian allies seek more sanctions – a move that China and Russia could back on condition that Washington halts its deployment of a missile defence system in South Korea. Covert action could target communications systems using cyber attacks, though Pyongyang's secrecy has stymied past efforts. A military strike could further destabilise the tense region, caused millions of casualties and trigger a conflict with China and regional allies. It would also unlikely destroy nuclear sites well-hidden and buried in mountains. Believed to escalate pressure on China in its North Korea efforts, US bombers have reportedly flown over the East and the disputed South China Seas on 7 July.

About author: Elisabeth Gheorghe

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