What’s Next in the North Korean Crisis?

How Will President Trump Handle the North Korean Crisis Now?

Coming off a successful Tomahawk cruise missile attack on the Syrian air base that launched a deadly chemical weapons attack on innocent Syrian civilians including young babies, how is President Trump likely to address the North Korean crisis involving potential ICBMs and nuclear weapons? It’s a risky situation for the United States and North Korea. But, even more so, it’s a very troubling time for America’s allies in that region namely, South Korea and Japan. Of course, Russia and Iran are watching closely as are numerous other nations with related interests.

Let’s explore the North Korean crisis now and consider some of the activities taking place. Plus, let’s think about President Trump’s potential moves.

Trump is Moving Heavy Military Forces into the Area

Almost immediately, President Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group into the region. A carrier strike group typically includes about 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier with about 70 aircraft, a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, and one or more supply ships. Also, tasked to the Korean peninsula was a Trident submarine capable of wielding up to 48 nuclear missiles.

According to the Zero Hedge website, a South Korean news source called Yonhap indicated two other carrier strike groups are being sent to the Korean area as well. These are the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group whose current home port is Yokosuka, Japan and the USS Nimitz carrier strike group whose home port is Everett, Washington. [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-17/us-deploys-two-more-aircraft-carriers-toward-korean-peninsula-yonhap].

On his trip to South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. THAAD is a missile defense system capable of defending against both short and medium range hostile missiles up to about 120 miles away and up to about 90 miles high. The cost to deploy and operate one THAAD system is $1 billion.

Hawaii is Taking Steps to Prepare for an Unlikely Attack

With the North Korean crisis hitting the headlines, some within the State of Hawaii have decided to look at updating Hawaii’s emergency plans. These include updating fallout shelters and restocking them with water, food and necessary medical supplies.

North Korea has Artillery Aimed at Seoul Korea

North Korea is thought to have considerable artillery and mortars. Their M-1978 KOKSAN 170mm self-propelled guns and their MRL240 M-1985 rocket artillery systems are believed to be able of directly reaching Seoul, Korea, potentially inflicting considerable damage on the capital city of South Korea. [Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/04/17/are-brink-second-korean-war/ZT6MaMO55nnCkWwsqCQsZL/story.html]

Seoul is actually a fairly large city with about 10 million people, skyscrapers, and subways. An attack on Seoul might result in a sizable number of fatalities and casualties.

China and Russia have been Observing the Region with Spy Ships

China and Russia both with deep interests in the North Korean crisis reportedly have sent in spy ships to track the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group. [Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3350347/china-russia-spy-ships-us-carrier-korean-peninsula/]

Has China Really Moved 150,000 Troops to the North Korean Border? Other Chinese Actions?

It has been reported the the Chinese have moved 150,000 troops to the North Korean border either to reign in North Korean belligerence toward the US, or to intimidate the US into backing down from any potential military strikes against North Korea. [Source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/12/china-reportedly-sent-150-000-troops-to-north-koreas-border-h/22037672/]

However, other reports throw cold water on those claims, and instead argue that these are just rumors. They believe there are always thousands of Chinese troops near the North Korean border.[Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/card/are-chinese-troops-massing-north-korean-border-no-n745611]

Other potential Chinese actions have included:

  • Curtailing Air China flights between China and North Korea [Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/northkorea-china-airline-idINKBN17G11M]
  • Curtailing coal imports from North Korea into China – Coal represents 40% of North Korea’s exports [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/china-150000-troops-north-korea-xi-trump-2017-4?r=UK&IR=T]

What’s Next in the North Korean Crisis?

  • Expect more belligerent talk from North Korea
  • Expect more missile launch tests from North Korea
  • If any missile launch appears hostile (for example, aimed at South Korea or Japan) expect a decisive military response.
  • Don’t expect any US preemptive military action before all assets are in place – Carl Vinson carrier strike group, Trident submarine, other carrier strike groups, THAAD systems operational in the Korean theatre, etc.
  • Expect more diplomatic and economic efforts by the US for now
  • Expect increased and intense intelligence-gathering of North Korea’s capabilities by the US

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