Pentagon: U.S. Would ‘End’ North Korea if Attacked

Pentagon: U.S. Would ‘End’ North Korea if Attacked

Meanwhile, the State Department said this week that it is willing to enter arms control talks with North Korea if the Kim regime is willing.

According to the newly released National Defense Strategy (NDS) and Nuclear Posture Review, any nuclear attack by North Korea against the U.S. or its allies would result in the “end” of the North Korean regime. 

“Our strategy for North Korea recognizes the threat posed by its nuclear, chemical, missile, and conventional capabilities, and in particular the need to make clear to the Kim regime the dire consequences should it use nuclear weapons,” the document said. “Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its Allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime. There is no scenario in which the Kim [Jong Un] regime could employ nuclear weapons and survive. Short of nuclear use, North Korea can also conduct rapid strategic attacks in East Asia. United States nuclear weapons continue to play a role in deterring such attacks. Further, we will hold the regime responsible for any transfers it makes of nuclear weapons technology, material, or expertise to any state or non-state actor.”

The strategy comes as rumors persist that the North Koreans are planning a nuclear test, possibly before the midterm elections in the U.S. 

"Offensive as they are, which just causes more instability on the peninsula and contributes to a degradation in the security environment, we have said for months now that Mr. Kim could conduct another nuclear test at any moment. And we still believe that that's the case," John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said this week, per Yonhap. 

Meanwhile, the State Department said this week that it is willing to enter arms control talks with North Korea if the Kim regime is willing. 

“If they would have a conversation with us … arms control can always be an option if you have two willing countries willing to sit down at the table and talk … If he picked up the phone and said, ‘I want to talk about arms control,’ we’re not going to say no. I think, if anything, we would want to explore what that means,” the State Department’s Bonnie Jenkins said, per CNN. Jenkins’ title is State Department undersecretary for arms control. 

According to that report, the use of the phrase “arms control,” which has frequently been used in the past in reference to countries that are both nuclear powers, “raised eyebrows,” since the United States has not recognized North Korea as such a power. State Department spokesman Ned Price later clarified that there has been no change in U.S. policy. 

Meanwhile, in a United Nations vote this week, China voted to condemn past North Korea nuclear tests, although Russia abstained. However, one expert cautioned that it might mean very little. 

“For many reasons, China has consistently expressed opposition to North Korea’s nuclear tests,” Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute, told NK News. “China will still go against the international community and not back new DPRK sanctions, even if North Korea goes ahead with the seventh one.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.