Political Risk Analysis - Scenario: US Military Strike On North Korea - MAY 2017


BMI View: Although we do not anticipate US military action against North Korea in the near term, the possibility will grow as Pyongyang c omes closer to achieving the ability to deliver a nuclear strike on the continental United States. In this scenario, we consider the implications of the US attacking North Korea.

North Korea continues to make progress in its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes, raising the possibility that it will achieve the ability to launch a nuclear strike on the continental United States within the next several years. Of course, having this ability does not mean that Pyongyang would use it. Rather, the North seeks a credible deterrent against a hypothetical (although perhaps less so going forward) US attack that could lead to 'regime change', like in Iraq and Libya. Even so, once it develops fully-functional nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, North Korea will have become only the third adversarial country to the US (after Russia and China) capable of launching a nuclear strike on it. To some in Washington, DC, including President Donald Trump, this would be unacceptable. Therefore, the US may increasingly lean towards the option of a military strike.

Although the US has never ruled out military action against North Korea over its nuclear programme, the last two US presidents (George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) never seriously entertained this option. President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) considered airstrikes against North Korea's nuclear facilities in the spring of 1994, but refrained after receiving estimates that this would trigger a devastating war with heavy loss of lives and tremendous economic disruption. Nonetheless, the Trump administration could eventually gamble that this would be a price worth paying in order to end the North Korean nuclear threat once and for all.

High Risk Of Widespread Destruction
North And South Korea - Major Cities

This article is part of our China & North East Asia coverage. To access this article subscribe now or sign up for free trial