(WATCH) North Korea

While much of our attention has been focused on Ukraine and the Mideast, experts say we should be taking a closer look at North Korea. The communist nation has been flexing its muscles with provocative drills, while accusing the U.S. and South Korea of doing the same.

Scott Thuman reports on the North Korea threat.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

The Islamic extremist invasion of Israel by Hamas has triggered potential conflicts in Lebanon and in Yemen.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and looming threat to Europe has sapped U.S. munitions and money.

And China seems posturing for a takeover of Taiwan. The U.S. is facing the potential of multiple wars at once.

But in the fog of war elsewhere, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has become a bigger threat.

Ken Gause: The North Koreans are now in a posture that is much more aggressive. They have shown quite a lot of progress on their missile capabilities, their ICBM forces, their tactical capabilities or short-range systems.

Scott: Is all that concerning?

Gause: That is all concerning. That they could potentially range the United States with that capability. They could rain down artillery on Seoul and other parts of Korea. They can obviously hit Japan. And if we ever do get into a crisis on the peninsula, it’s going to be potentially very bloody and very difficult to deal with.

Ken Gause has analyzed North Korean leaders for 30 years. He is the senior advisor on the Koreas for the Center for Naval Analyses.

Gause: It’s only a matter of time. If they were allowed to continue to test and test and test, they’re eventually going to get there. If they decide that’s something they want to do. Now, why wouldn’t they want to show that? They would want to show it because it’s a deterrent.

Since early 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 rounds of missile tests to modernize its arsenal. Kim Jong Un hasn’t exactly been quiet about it, even producing a Hollywood-style video to hype an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile test.

The North Korean weapons program is not solely focused on a nuclear strike against the U.S., but is expanding its ability to fight regional wars.

Last fall, the elusive Kim traveled to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, South Korean intelligence reported more than a million North Korean artillery shells were sent to Russia, along with large shipments of rifles and ammunition. These images by British intelligence show suspected cargo being loaded on Russian ships in North Korea. By supplying the Russian battle in Ukraine, North Korea receives much-needed cash and a chance to test new weapons systems.

Gause: One of the things that the North Koreans are getting out of sending weapons to Ukraine is, it does give them the ability them to test their operational bona fides.

Scott: They can beta test.

Gause: They beta test.

A North Korean launch of a regional war could be the sum of all fears. This year, North Korea carried out six rounds of missile tests and a barrage of artillery firing drills.

And Kim said North Korea would scrap its long-standing goal of peaceful unification with South Korea and vowed to annihilate South Korea and the United States if provoked.

To counter Kim’s rhetoric this month, the U.S. and South Korea held a large combined exercise to shore up their readiness against any attack from the North.

What has been missing though is direct engagement.

In 2019, President Trump took 20 steps across the border into North Korea. It was a masterclass in showmanship and a first for any U.S. leader to step into the hermit kingdom. But hard talks produced little, with the North refusing to give up its nuclear program, and the U.S. refusing to disarm in South Korea.

Scott: If President Biden were to win another term, how do we see this relationship playing out?

Gause: Most likely you’re going to have a, kind of a, continuing drip, drip, drip. North Korea will probably expand its testing program to try to put more and more pressure, because a conventional president’s going to need more and more pressure on them to engage on North Korea’s conditions.

Scott: If Donald Trump is elected, what’ll that mean?

Gause: If President Trump wanted to engage because of his personal relationship with Kim, then maybe there’s a way forward to de-escalate some of this and work towards some sort of denuclearization on the back end years down the line.

The next U.S. president may not have the luxury of letting Kim Jong Un linger on the sidelines, as the North’s rising threat may put it back on the top of the watch list.

Scott: Is North Korea the most likely spot for another conflict involving the United States?

Gause: In my opinion, North Korea is probably the one spot on earth where a war could break out very quickly with very little warning, and it could be very extremely deadly, including U.S. military personnel and civilians killed as part of it. There are other parts of the world that can be dangerous, but North Korea, I think, with as much weaponry and munitions that are crammed in such a small amount of space, that things get out of hand fairly quickly.

Sharyl (on-camera): We are conducting training exercises with the South Koreans quite a bit. How did North Korea respond to the latest ones — the joint training that we did with South Korea?

Scott: Well, North Korea claims that those moves could ignite a nuclear war even with a spark. And in terms of a spark, this year’s exercises doubled in size, included 12 countries — France, Philippines, Canada all taking part. And when it comes to the U.S.-South Korean command, right now overseeing 600,000 active troops, and, of course, talk of a disproportionate response if the North decides to act.

Watch video here.

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1 thought on “(WATCH) North Korea”

  1. le_berger_des_photons

    Hamas invaded Israel? You have taken that at face value? Is it currently illegal in usa to suggest that maybe it didn’t happen that way? The corrupt congress is quick to poop out crazy laws, the marionettists operating the president can also come out with some weird executive orders that wouldn’t exist in a real constitutional republic. Gosh, how’d those guys practice flying in their motorized parachutes without being noticed by Mossad? Did they practice underground in their tunnels? How do we know that Hamas is not simply another branch of Mossad?

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