In his sixth annual New Years address, Kim Jong Un stated that the United States can't wage war against his country in any form because he had "the entire mainland of the U.S." within reach of his intercontinental ballistic missiles and that he has a "nuclear button" always on the desk in his office. The young tyrant emphasized that "this is not a threat but a reality."
Hopefully he is speaking metaphorically about the "nuclear button" on his desk as executive command and control architecture for nuclear weapons release is often referred to as "the button" but in reality it is usually more complex than that. Then again, Kim Jong Un has been frighteningly accurate with his statements regarding North Korea's nuclear program. Just last year, during his fifth New Years address, Kim stated that he was entering the "final stages" of preparations for a test launch of a ICBM. At the time many discounted this claim as bluster, but they would later find out that it was all too true.
The mental image of North Korea's already comic book-like super villain leader having a big red button on his desk that would bring about a massive war, and even a nuclear exchange, on a whim is bordering on Dr. Evil territory. But who knows, the ultra paranoid leadership in Pyongyang knows full well that their command and control systems would come under near instant electronic and cyber attack—and eventually kinetic attack—the second hostilities are detected, so simplifying and turbocharging the command release procedure for the country's nuclear stockpile could very well be a primary goal of the regime. At the very least it would lend credibility to the country's nuclear deterrent, albeit in a terribly frightening way. At the same time it could mean recalling the country's nuclear forces once an order is given could be near impossible.
Kim's New Years message also deviated from the usual bellicose rhetoric into a bit less combative messaging, stating that his nuclear nation "loves peace" and that as long as there isn't any aggression against him and his people he "doesn't intend to use nuclear powers." At the same time, the address gave no signs that Kim's regime has any intentions of giving up its nuclear arsenal or missile programs.
The speech comes on the same day that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen gave a dire warning about the collision course the U.S. and North Korea are presently on. With Pyongyang unwilling to denuclearize and no real pathway being offered by the Trump Administration to enter into direct negotiations, the chances that there could be a peaceful deescalation through diplomacy seem increasingly slim.
It also comes as allegations stack up against China and Russia that they are cheating on U.N. sanctions against North Korea by executing ship-to-ship transfers of contraband fuel reserves to the rogue nation. These developments are troubling to say the least and undermine the power the U.N. has when it comes to having its own members enforce its resolutions. Ships are now being seized and the whole affair seems to be inching toward a naval blockade of the country, a tactic we pointed out last September as a possible option to put extreme pressure on the North Korean regime.
With North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs leaping far ahead of almost all estimates last year, and as a threat of an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific looming, not to mention tensions between the Kim regime and the Trump administration at an all time high, there is even more uncertainty surrounding the high-stakes standoff going in to 2018 than there was going into 2017.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com