Balance of Power: Trump’s Korea Wargame Options Spell ‘Insanity’

Trump's 'Fire and Fury' Answer to North Korea Threat

Donald Trump’s vow to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea sounded a lot like the rhetoric Kim Jong Un uses to threaten America. And it may prove to be just as empty.

Trump has no good military options in the face of mounting evidence that Kim will soon be able to hit Los Angeles or Denver with nuclear missiles.

As this Bloomberg QuickTake explains, North Korea’s weapons and nuclear facilities are dispersed and hidden throughout the country’s mountainous terrain. Failing to hit them all would leave Japan, South Korea and U.S. military bases vulnerable to attack -- with either conventional or nuclear warheads. And even if the U.S. managed to destroy everything, Seoul would still be vulnerable to North Korea’s artillery.

With reports suggesting that Kim now has up to 60 nuclear warheads, millions could die.

“When you run any cost-benefit analysis, it’s insanity,” said John Delury, an assistant professor at Yonsei University in South Korea.

That leaves diplomacy. Most analysts say Kim won’t give up his nukes at this point, and Trump, the self-professed dealmaker, should just strike a grand bargain with Pyongyang.

The question is whether that happens before a catastrophic miscalculation on either side.

South Korea's missile system firing Hyunmu-2 missiles into the East Sea on July 29, 2017.
Photographer: Handout/Getty Images AsiaPac

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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