Last month North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile which defense experts say could reach as far as New York or other U.S. east coast cities. This month a confidential US intelligence report reviewed by The Washington Post concluded that North Korea had made a breakthrough and could now build nuclear warheads small enough to fit on missiles. On Tuesday President Trump said “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” North Korea responded by saying it was “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around the US territory of Guam in the Pacific, including the Andersen Air Force base. American guns are loaded and locked on North Korea, but there are 3 steps President Trump must take before pulling the trigger.
1) Appoint Special Envoy
President Trump should immediately appoint a person whose only focus is to represent the President in negotiations with North Korea. This not only fills a current void but strokes the ego of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and gives North Korea the attention it craves.
2) Deploy Naval Blockade of North Korea
Interdict all ships carrying goods to and from North Korea to halt supplies to North Korea’s nuclear program and prevent the state from exporting weapons technology to other countries or terrorist groups. The interdictions would also seek to deprive North Korea of revenue from arms sales and target the lucrative exports of narcotics and other illegal goods that help keep North Korea’s economy afloat.
3) Shoot down the next missile tested
America has spent millions of dollars to develop the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. Now is the time to use it to shoot down the next missile that North Korea test. While there have been several successful tests of the THAAD system it has not been used in combat, so if THAAD is used announcement of its use should be withheld if there is not a successful shoot down of the missile. A failed shoot down attempt would only embolden North Korea, but success in shooting down a missile will send a strong message to North Korea that negotiation not nuclear weapons is the key to its survival.
President Trump is right to take a hard line against North Korea even if it means taking pre-emptive military action, but he must first exhaust ALL other options before taking military action that will mean death for thousands of Koreans and Americans.