NORTH KOREA: Empty threats or real risk? - KMSP-TV

NORTH KOREA: Empty threats or real risk?

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The North Korean military says it's ready to launch nuclear missiles at the United States, but are those empty threats coming out does the ramped-up rhetoric reflect a real risk?

At this point, it seems the only thing that may be stopping an attack are the missiles themselves. They simply don't have the range, but the bellicose bombast is nothing the world hasn't heard before.

Kim Jong Un, 29, has also threatened to turn Seoul into a sea of fire. What's different this time is that the military has moved their missiles. Now, the challenge for the U.S. is to meet the threat without forcing the country's leader into a corner.

The latest threat from the country were broadcast on North Korea's state television, which claimed the country is ready to strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

But the rest has played out like the game Battleship. North Korea moved its missiles to the country's eastern coast, which puts them in range of South Korea and Japan but not close enough to threaten American shores.

In response, the Pentagon moved its missile defense shield, which is capable of knocking out one of North Korea's medium-ranged missiles, to Guam. Two Navy destroyers, long-range bombers and stealth fighters are already in the region.

"It's incumbent upon us to take prudent steps to defend the United States, to defend our allies, to be prepared for necessary deterrents," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

The secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, also issued a scolding.

"Nuclear threat is not a game," he said. "It's very serious and I think they have gone too far in their rhetoric."

So, what can be done about a young and inexperienced leader who talks big and carries a little nuclear stick? Surveillance photos show new construction at a nuclear reactor that, when finished, would be capable of producing a bomb's worth of plutonium in a year.

"We're going to have to find some way to talk to North Korea," said Bill Davnie, a veteran foreign service officer.

According to Davnie, the fact that there is no back-channel dialogue with North Korea is a problem -- unless you consider Dennis Rodman a Trojan diplomat.

In this game of nuclear brinkmanship, Davnie says the U.S. also needs to give Kim Jong Un a way to save face.

"If you want to ratchet down tension, you've got to give the person a way out," he said. "You don't want to back them into a corner where they have to strike."

There is plenty of speculation as to why Kim Jong Un is doing all this now, from the belief that he is attempting to show military leaders that he is capable to concern that he is trying to extort neighboring countries.

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