It’s that time again and the sabres are rattling out of the Hermit Kingdom. We have heard these noises before. North Korea wants to test nuclear weapons, America and the international community confront, there are threats, then deals, things go quiet … until the next provocation. Is this time any different from before? Yes, it is - as if the Cold War never ended.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea, is a communist nation, a Stalinist state of 25 million people. It browbeats it subjects, has drastic food shortages, periodically threatens the South, and has the notorious distinction of being the Number One nation in the world for the persecution of Christians. Despite its official name, North Korea doesn't have democracy as we know it, does not observe human rights, and is ruled by an erratic, mercurial god-king. The Hermit Kingdom has had only 3 leaders since 1948: Father, son and grandson. The grandson, Kim Jong UN, though educated in Switzerland and only in his mid-30s, wants to prove he is the toughest of all. He had his supportive uncle executed and is accused of having his half-brother Kim Jong-nam assassinated early in 2017 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The scenario today is different and very concerning.
North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons, along with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan and Israel. Until now, we could sleep at night knowing that the parties involved were ‘rational.’ Even experts said that North Korea’s only reasons for getting nuclear weapons were to ‘gain respect’ and prevent western-style ‘regime change.’ Leave the regime alone and they will stay in their box.
Things have now changed. Kim Jong Un has openly proclaimed that he wants to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, Europe, and yes, even Australia. His arms developers have made progress in developing solid-fuel rockets. These can be set up quickly and are harder to detect and destroy. He has promised to have a nuclear test ‘every week,’ which is a major provocation to East Asia and the world. This means Kim has the capability to destroy a western city and that is an intolerable prospect. Without checks and balances of a democratic system, what is to stop North Korea from pressing the button and wrecking havoc?
Though exact numbers are uncertain, it is estimated that North Korea already has 10 to 16 nuclear bombs. Give them another 3-4 years and they could have a total of 100. Kim has threatened to strike the United States and even Australia if it continues with its US alliance, even though Australia has diplomatic relations with North Korea. Let’s not assume that Pyongyang is joking. This is serious stuff.
So what can we do?
First, it is important to stay strong. Say what you want about US President Donald Trump, but he projects decisiveness and strength. The President simply cannot allow North Korea to have the ability to threaten an American city. He has ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to the Korea Peninsula. Kim has threatened to sink it but Trump has not blinked. Guided missile subs are also being sent to the region. South Korea and Japan, both American allies, are being offered THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), a missile defence system that can shoot out of the sky incoming missiles. America had tactical nuclear weapons stationed in South Korea in the past and could place them again to ward off the threat from Pyongyang.
Second, it is important to have a united front with allies like those in Asia, Europe, and Australia. Unity is always a powerful motivator and deterrent. This unity is shown by enforcing and even enlarging sanctions against North Korea.
How about a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities. This is not recommended, though, as the Trump Administration says, ‘all options are on the table.’ The danger is that Pyongyang is threatening all out war - a threat we should take seriously. In a war 50 million South Koreans would be in harm’s way. America could and would win in an all-out confrontation, but the price is simply too high. That said, the US could still shoot a North Korean missile out of the sky without incurring the same amount of wrath.
Then there is the ‘China card.’ China, more than any other nation, has leverage over North Korea. In the past, this was used a bit but not whole-heartedly. This time, the West needs to make it worth China’s while to stop the North in its nuclear quest. After all, China is raking in the money and war is bad for business. China does not want war and has said so.
The potential fall of North Korea means North Korean refugees could stream across the Yalu River into China. It also means South Korea and America will be on China’s border. Having their Japanese and South Korean rivals possessing THAAD neutralises their own nuclear umbrella. Even a more unpalatable scenario for China are these two countries seeking to obtain nuclear weapons themselves.
Thus, China has an incentive now to be effectively involved with stopping North Korea that was not there before. America could offer China a ‘deal’ which is too good to refuse, like a nuclear-free, China-friendly, non-aligned North Korea. Asia likes ‘deals’ and President Trump wrote a best-selling book on the subject. There are some hopeful signs: Chinese President Xi Jinping has already been in touch with President Trump.
The Greatest Weapon of All
Finally, for Christian believers, you have the most potent weapon of all: prayer in the Name of Jesus. Forty percent of South Korea now Christian, with dozens of prayer mountains across that nation. Don’t you think this ‘wall of prayer’ has keep the peace on the Korea Peninsula since 1953 more than anything else? And prayer from the global Body of Christ will have even a greater effect. So let us pray:
1 For a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis;
2 For wisdom, calm and clear heads to prevail;
3 For China’s willing, meaningful, and successful engagement;
4 That God’s hand to cause the church to grow on both sides of the DMZ.