On Feb. 12 North Korean state media announced that it had conducted an underground nuclear test, despite the several UN sanctions already in place.
This set the stage for a series of war threats from the Northern regime’s young leader Kim Jong-un directed towards the United States and its allies. However, Kim might be bluffing according to several news outlets including Time Magazine. He could be talking about attacking the U.S. just as a way of keeping himself in power, or to prove to his people that he is in command rather than his generals.
America has thus far taken the approach to not go on the offensive. The United States has increased its missile defenses on the shores and increased its military assets in South Korea. The rest has been left to China, an important ally to North Korea, according to The Financial Times.
China has never wanted a unified Korean peninsula and it does not want an influx of Korean refugees flooding into China and putting pressure into its economy, according to CNN. China’s economic ties with the North have not yielded it any financial benefits.
Instead, the Chinese have turned North Korea into a sort of tribal state with direct dependence on China. The North does not realize that its neighbor and friend China views it only as a buffer, an irritant against western powers such as the United States
If China loses its grip on North Korea, it risks, among other things, a unified, unpredictable and more powerful Korea, and perhaps another major western ally. North Korea needs China to keep feeding its people and pursue its nuclear program. The two nations effectively are holding each other hostage, each one refusing to walk away from the bargain they have made, The Guardian reports.
North Korea followed up with ending the Korean War armistice and dissolving the economic ties it had with the south by closing the Kaesong Industrial complex. New threats of nuclear war from the North have become an everyday occurrence now. Any misunderstanding on either side could result in war, with China having the chips to play with Russia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S., according to CNN.