Finally, after years of speculation from the international community and failed nuclear tests, North Korea has proven that it can successfully launch a nuclear missile at the United States. Its recent successful test of a miniaturized atomic bomb indicates that it now has the potential to create an atomic bomb small enough to fit on a long-range nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.
To make matters worse, North Korea’s foreign ministry has claimed that this is only the first stage in a series of defensive measures against the United States. Such rhetoric is commonly used in North Korean propaganda to keep the regime popular. However, this is one of the most openly hostile claim that North Korea has ever made on an international stage towards the United States.
As such, the United States needs to devise a new foreign policy with regards to North Korea. Its current stance of leading international sanctions and condemnation of North Korea has been made obsolete by North Korea’s latest developments. Even though it seems that the North Korean ruling elite would hesitate to go to war with the United States, the world’s largest military superpower, the United States must ultimately prioritize self-defense over its position as an international police. The failure of North Korea to engage in international diplomacy and the harshness of its propaganda makes it difficult for the US to know the thought processes of North Korea’s ruling circle. Thus, the U.S. should aim to reduce the chance of a confrontation with North Korea as far as possible, no matter what the cost.
The United States should adopt a stance towards North Korea similar to that of China and Russia. Both China and Russia are critical allies of North Korea; though they maintain strong relations with Kim Jong-un to protect themselves from a nuclear threat and maintain trade, they also join the international community in calls for North Korea to denuclearize.
This would create a quasi-Cold War power balance where the more despotic the regime (i.e. U.S.S.R), the greater power it has. Because despots are so unpredictable, it is necessary to give them the upper hand in a power balance to ensure the peace and stability of the world at large.
In such a world, the U.S. and the international community will have no way to impose sanctions on North Korea nor to subject it to nuclear inspections. In the short term, this will lead to a stronger North Korea.
However the seeds of instability and overthrowing the regime in North Korea are already planted. Kim Jong-un has very low popularity with the military who actually has more power than him. He is losing his hold over the country and corruption with border officials is letting in a new black market of foreign goods like television, movies, foreign literature etc. that is letting his people know more of the outside world and learn how backwards their own country is making them want to revolt.
It is better for the United States to wait for an invariable civil war between Kim Jong-un and his citizens than to provoke Kim Jong-un into making the conflict between North Korea and the U.S.A.