Kim Jong UnNorth
Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides a target-striking contest of the
special operation forces of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to
occupy islands in this undated picture provided by KCNA in
Pyongyang on August 25, 2017.
KCNA via
Reuters

North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador warned on Monday that tensions
on the peninsula have escalated so high that “a nuclear war may break
out any moment
.”

This is exactly the kind of bluster Pyongyang has engaged in for
decades.

On the surface, the latest US military
movements
look like preparations for a preemptive strike
on North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure. But its clear the two
forces are still locked in a stalemate.

The USS Michigan, a stealthy submarine laden with 150 Tomahawk
cruise missiles just arrived in South
Korea’s Busan port
. It likely carried Navy SEALs and covert
submarines designed for operations deep behind enemy lines.

US bombers frequently
train
on how to strike North Korean targets. Stealth jets
like F-35s and F-22s
wait in the wings in case of conflict. A US aircraft carrier
decked out with dozens of fighter and electronic attack aircraft
sits just off North Korea’s shores.

But experts say none of that really matters.

According to Tom Plant, the director the Proliferation and
Nuclear Policy program at the Royal United Services Institute,
“the US always, at all times, has an overwhelming superiority
over North Korea,” so a few new jets doesn’t really change
things.

“In terms of its precision strike technology, in terms of its
ability to put metal on targets,” there is never really a contest
between the US and South Korea versus North Korea, Plant told
Business Insider.

But a stalemate remains. North Korean artillery, before getting
obliterated by US and South Korean air power, could kill off
as many as 20,000 in
South Korea’s capital of Seoul each day
. This all but
precludes a US preemptive strike.

uss michigan south korea navy seals submarineThe
Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727)
(Gold) pulls into the pier of Republic of Korea’s Busan Naval
Base as part of a routine port visit.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jermaine
Ralliford

Additionally, although a major naval drill has recently begun,
Plant said he doesn’t see any evidence of a swell of ground
troops that would indicate war is likely.

While the US would strike North Korea to prevent widespread
death and destruction in the US or any of its allies’ homelands,
it hasn’t come to that point yet.

North Korea as much as admitted it doesn’t have a credible way of
striking the US on Monday, with an official telling
CNN
it needs to conduct more tests. Striking South Korea or
Japan would also result in a smoldering Pyongyang.

“The last person who wants conflict on the [Korean peninsula] is
Kim Jong Un,” said Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of
the CIA’s newly created Korea Mission Center previously said.
Kim Jong Un has “no interest in going toe-to-toe” with the US,
continued Lee.

south korean tanks military exerciseSouth
Korean army soldiers ride a K-1 tank during the annual exercise
with their U.S. counterparts in Paju, near the border with North
Korea, Thursday, March 10, 2016.
Ahn
Young-joon/AP

When hearing North Korean propaganda statements, remember that
the rational but paranoid country has made a habit of grandiose
threats as it stares down superior conventional and nuclear
military power from the US and South Korea.

North Korea has found that the best way to protest US military
strength that they can’t possibly defeat sitting near its borders
is to float the idea that nuclear war may be just a moment away,
but that’s the last thing it wants.

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