‘Risk of misunderstanding in constant spiral of escalation between US and N. Korea’

‘Risk of misunderstanding in constant spiral of escalation between US and N. Korea’
When North Korea feels threatened it shows its military capabilities, and that leads to more threats and sanctions from the US that prompts North Korea to demonstrate yet more, and so on, explains former US diplomat Jim Jatras.

North Korea has launched another ballistic missile on Monday. It flew about 450 kilometers before landing inside Japan’s economic zone, some 300 kilometers off the Japanese coast.

South Korea and Japan both denounced the test. Tokyo said the missile caused no damage but called it a "clear violation of UN resolutions." 

RT asked analysts what Pyongyang is trying to achieve by escalating its missile program.

“We have a certain cycle, it seems. When North Korea feels threatened, they show their military prowess. They have nuclear weapons; they demonstrate that they are developing more and more missile capabilities. And the response to that from the countries that are critical of North Korea - particularly the US - is more threats and more sanctions. And that prompts the North Koreans to do what - to yet demonstrate more what they can do with their missiles which then leads to another round of threats and sanctions. We seem to be in a constant spiral of escalation here, and it is not hard to see how this turns out eventually,” says Jim Jatras.

However, he suggests it’s unlikely that someone will snap and an actual armed conflict will ensue.

“I don’t think it is likely with either side would deliberately push the bottom to start an armed conflict. But it has been the case with many wars in the past: war starts when nobody intends to start one. When somebody did something, and they misunderstood or didn’t quite predict how the other side would react, and something unexpected and nasty happens, and people find themselves at war… I think that is what the real risk here,” the former diplomat said.

Richard Becker, from the ANSWER Coalition, says he finds it fascinating that there is such a big story about a North Korean Scud missile.

“For the last twenty or thirty years, the US military has been making fun of the Scud missile, saying … how inaccurate those missiles are and now they may be improved,” he continues.

“We had President Trump telling the president of the Philippines admitting that the US has two Trident submarines sitting off the coast of North Korea, one of which has between 200 and 400 hundred independently targetable nuclear weapons on board. That is what the Tridents are. They are the most extreme death-dealing weapon ever invented by humans,” he adds.

“And yet what the story is - is not those submarines, not the surrounding of North Korea with US military power, but a Scud missile that is launched into the sea,” Becker told RT.

“North Korea is in a very vulnerable position at the moment,” said author and Asia specialist Tim Beal.

“We have to understand that we are talking about deterrence rather than anything else. North Korea is very much weaker than the US, North Korea is threatened by the US, it can’t possibly attack the US, only retaliate. So, we are talking about deterrence and retaliation,” Beal claimed.

“We’ve had this flurry of recent tests all this year and at the end of last year. And that is basically because North Korea is in a very vulnerable position at the moment: it is in this gap between not having a missile that can actually hit the US and a very strong possibility that in few years it will have,” he continued.

According to Beal, “during this period the US has a choice whether to attack now or not. And if it doesn’t attack now, in five years’ time or whatever, it won’t be able to because the Koreans will be able to retaliate against the US.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.