The reclusive country of North Korea has got nothing to lose if it deploys a nuclear bomb against South Korea or the US.
For the past several decades the international community has rallied behind stringent economic sanctions meant to cripple the economy of North Korea. While this has had a significant negative impact on ordinary North Koreans, the regime has gone unscathed and its grip on power has never been stronger.
North Korea spends over half its GDP preparing to fight any and every enemy. North Korean citizens have endured severe economic hardships and are equally better prepared to endure a long war compared to South Korea and the rest of the world.
The question one should ask before going into war is “What is there to gain and what is there to lose?” North Korea currently benefits little to nothing when it comes to international trade. With no trading transactions to worry about albeit limited economic means, North Korea stands to lose the least if a war breaks out.
Should a war break out, the constant threat of volleys of nuclear material flying all over the pacific is certain to bring global trade to a standstill. Global markets will tumble into the negatives instantly. Think about that, trillions of dollars will perish overnight and global depression will strike almost immediately. Any country will be under the risk of either being hit deliberately or unintentionally with some kind of nuclear material.
North Korea would have succeeded in pulling the rest of the world into the kind of poverty it currently experiences.
Even if the US and the rest of the world succeed in eviscerating the North Korean regime, it would take decades if not a century for the rest of the world to recover form the devastation.
What is even worrisome is that, North Korea's loss excluding human casualties will account for less than 0.01% of the total loss. In this respect, North Korea was more than confident in 2010 that even if it shelled South Korea, there was little for the international community to do because it would be too scared to start a war with the North.
North Korea is very likely going to be a threat to the global economy in the short and long term so long as the regime does not quickly figure out a way to get out of sanctions or grow its economy. North Korea clearly has the will and determination to continue developing and testing nuclear weapons as that is the regime's only bargaining chip. I won't bet on North Korea ever coming to some negotiating table to declare it would abandon its nuclear program. It seems that is something the rest of the world has to live with even if it means coming under constant verbal threats of being wiped out in a nuclear war.
At the moment it is more probable an asteroid would fall from space and destroy North Korea before anyone engages it in a war.
Is North Korea just looking to extract more concessions from the US and South Korea at the negotiating table from the latest round of salvo? It is hard to think that is the case given that every nuclear and missile test has been met with more and more severe sanctions. So, what is the North Korean regime up to this time?
The regime's response to more sanctions has consistently been more nuclear and missile tests. It does not look like the sanctions are working anymore even if some may revel that the North Korean economy is in shambles. It would be appear the North Korean regime has already been driven far enough to the wall and has made the calculation that the only way to get out of sanctions is to scare everyone. The fear is not the scare North Korea creates, but the fact that if North Korea's threat is not taken seriously, the erratic regime would want to prove that it can deliver on its threat.
North Korea has called the US a boiled pumpkin and it seems bent on making good on that threat. Judging from the bellicose rhetoric coming from the North, it would seem the North Koreans are the most prepared for a nuclear war. It is hard to imagine that is not the case given the shelling of South Korea in 2010 and the very reclusive nature of the North Korean regime that sees itself to be constantly at war with everyone else. The US only recently began setting up an anti missile in Guam. That does not strike one as being prepared given the constant threat of a nuclear strike coming from the North Koreans.
North Korea has been building bunkers and tunnels under mountains. They watched the “shock and awe war” in Iraq although Iraq had no nuclear material. It is hard to imagine the North Korean regime did not refashion its forces after watching the Iraq war. Certainly, North Korea is no Iraq either, given that it could spontaneously shell South Korea with little follow up consequences.
At some point this cat and mouse game will end and war will break out. The erratic North Korea could suddenly launch a nuclear missile into Japan, South Korea or the US. No one outside of North Korea would know if that missile will be carrying a nuclear war head or not.
Should the US take out North Korea in a nuclear strike before North Korea has the chance to hit first or should the US wait to be hit first before striking back? Nuclear war is not a joke and it might be too late to strike after you are struck.