Taking weeks of shrill rhetoric and threats to a fresh high on Tuesday, North Korea announced plans to restart a shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of enriched uranium. So did we just move one step closer to nuclear armageddon? Here’s a reading list of comment and analysis to help gauge the hazard level.
- Our own Gideon Rachman argues that there is still “an unfortunate tendency in the west” to treat North Korea as a bit of a joke. “In reality, the Pyongyang regime is about as unfunny as it gets.” He warns that the US and South Korea are responding to North Korea as if it is a rational adversary – “but the unsettling reality is that we cannot be sure.”
- Writing for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos highlights the difficulty of judging the true nature of Kim Jong-eun’s intentions. “The rhetoric and the stagecraft has reached such a tragicomic level that it is easy to overlook the depth of the threat beneath. It has forced people to ask: At what point do we take North Korea at its word?”
- Scott Snyder, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the LA Times he doesn’t believe North Korea actually intends to start a war. “The risk is really related to miscalculation”, he says. An FT editorial underlines that point: “North Korea’s increasingly strident proclamations come as the US and South Korean military conduct annual drills around the peninsula. This is where accidental clashes could indeed spark grave regional conflict.”
- What do North Korea’s air defenses look like? Foreign Policy has the answer. (Spoiler: they look quite old, as they’re largely from the 60s, 70s and 80s).