Kim Jong-un has threatened a missile strike on Guam.
Donald Trump has promised ‘fire and fury’;
But experts say bluster might not lead to war.
The battle of words between the United States and North Korea has escalated, with Donald Trump warning that any kind of threats would be met with "fire and fury" and Pyongyang immediately announced it was "carefully examining" a plan to attack an American armed forces base in the western Pacific.
Stress on the Korean peninsula have been running high given North Korea's two intercontinental ballistic missiles tests in July and also two nuclear bomb tests in 2016, which has raised sanctions on the already isolated country.
In spite of two unpredictable nuclear-armed political leaders trading threats, the majority of observers think the possibility of war continues to be remote, with the North dictatorship utilizing its nuclear program as a negotiating chip instead of an offensive weapon.
PROFFESSOR ANDREEW O'NEIL
Ballistic Missile Testing Expert, Griffith University
A lot will rely on North Korea's activities in regards to missile testing.
If North Korea tests a nuclear program after two watershed ICBM testing in July, this will be extremely provocative and will put extreme stress on the United States and its allies, in addition to China, ahead up with additional steps to pressure Pyongyang.
The issue is that: a) security council sanctions have not deterred North Korea; and b) there is no hunger for military strikes on North Korea WMD installments for fear of setting off a vast conflict in northeast Asia.
Donald Trump's "fire and fury" remarks, however, might be a game-changer in the sense that he may feel forced to make use of military pressure to support United States integrity worldwide.
If he does not act in the face of a significant North Korea provocation, his very own credibility will certainly take a huge hit, which might by itself move him closer to military activity.
The cycle traditionally has been that both sides have ended up being a lot more risk-averse as war ends becomes most likely.
The issue this time around about is that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un do have excessive self-confidence in their ability to de-escalate and handle the crisis before a spiral gains traction.
It's vital to appreciate that Kim Jong-un's domestic situation plays a big role.
Turn over at senior levels of the communist regime is merciless and recurrent, and Kim's position is not necessarily protected. He would be concerned about the capacity for a Chinese-sponsored coup of and his own power base.
Standing up to the opponent that is the foundation for North Korea's modern and historical conflict narrative (i.e. the United States) plays well with Kim's domestic base and possibly aids in strengthening his control over the regime, the communist party and the military.
Wilson Centre fellow, former AP Pyongyang bureau chief
Nobody in the region, not even North Korea, desires another war.
But Kim Jong-un is going to push it as much as he can to obtain what he wants: acknowledgment from the United States that North Korea is a nuclear power, and credibility at home as a leader who can safeguard his people against the big, bad United States.
The truth is, Trump's barbs play right into the North Korean propaganda: Kim Jong-un needs his people to think that the US remains a constant threat to existence of North Korea.
That fearmongering brings the North Koreans together, and warrants the regime's diversion of precious resources right into developing a nuclear and ballistic missile program.
Exactly what I'm worried about is a mistake or accident that might force soldiers in the region to take military action.
Keep in mind, we had an army battle between South and North Korea at a frontline Korean island in 2010 that killed numerous South Korean citizens.
And with test launches of ballistic missiles veering into Japanese territorial waters, Japan could feel required to act.
Associate professor, Pusan National University
North Koreans are not interested in diplomacy: they want to get the ability to wipe out Chicago from the map first.
There are two ways to think about what Trump claimed.
The positive way - if you're a Trump advocate - is that he's attempting to be unpredictable. What this is really planned to do is to push the Chinese, to signify to them that strategic patience is over.
The less confident, and most likely, analysis is that Trump is just firing his mouth off. There's a conversational rhetoric between both sides - its like two bullies in the play ground shouting at each other.
The North Koreans are not going to offensively strike an American base or the American homeland unilaterally with no justification - to do that would certainly bring destructive American retaliation.
The North Koreans aren't dumb. Their nuclear weapons are meant for defence, not offense.
The North Koreans are concerned with what transpired with Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, they fear Americans leveraging change and they understand that nuclear weapons are assured to stop that from taking place.
That's what this is truly about. The Guam situation is an additional empty threat.
However the North Koreans are not going to fall back in line.
They'll proceed with the missile testing and ensure that the warhead has been miniaturised. In addition they have to ensure that the missiles do not separate when they re-enter the atmosphere.
In the meantime, they'll react to American threats with their own threats.
We're not used to anxiety and unpredictability originating from the American side of this relationship. That's why people are so agitated - we're not utilized to Potus speaking like this.
Senior lecturer in Korean studies, University of Melbourne
They will trade some severe words for some time until Washington talks, covertly or openly, with Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un will maintain test-firing.
There is no military solution to the North Korean issue. North Korea wishes to be acknowledged as a legit nuclear state by the United States and create diplomatic connections with the United States.
Regular reminders to the world and specifically the United States of their nuclear and missile advances is part of their strategy for regime survival.
All options are on the negotiation table for Pyongyang, and North Korea did propose peace talks with the United States at numerous times to finish the 1953 armistice and change it with a peace treaty.
What North Korea is additionally aiming to do is to damage the South Korea-US relationship and weaken the new South Korean president Moon Jae-in's efforts for improved inter-Korean connections.
He's recommended various talks with North Korea and Pyongyang has purposely disregarded Seoul's intentions.
Kim Jong-un desires to speak directly with Donald Trump, undermining Moon, however the United States is hesitant to negotiate with North Korea unless Kim denuclearises or at a minimum freezes its nuclear programs.
It's hopeful thinking that Kim Jong-un will dismantle his nuclear power.
Neither Putin nor Xi Jinping would want another war in the Korean peninsula, and Kim has no close friends in international diplomacy.
He created a really dangerous weapon that's threatening everyone, specifically those in South Korea. If Donald Trump does not want Kim Jong-un to continue developing his nuclear program, he needs to sit down and speak with Kim.
Professor at Kookmin University, Seoul, and director of NK News
We will be treated with great instances of antagonistic words by North Korea media. I'm simply waiting for some vibrantly abusive summary of Donald Trump, quickly to be generated by the North Korean propagandists, and maybe President Trump will send an aircraft carrier or two in the direction of the Korean peninsula.
As soon as North Korea finishes the development of a nuclear program with the ability of striking the continental United States, they may be prepared to discuss a nuclear and missile freeze. The United States ought to accept this choice.
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There is a very little chance of war.
However North Koreans are not interested about diplomacy: they want the capacity to erase Chicago from the map first, and after that they will be interested in diplomatic options. They will reach this capacity within a few of years.
Donald Trump is utilizing both tactics and rhetoric which for years have been used only by the North Korean side of the dispute.
On the North Korean side, it is business as usual, naturally: they repeat their promises to turn Seoul into the "sea of fire" every couple of years.
North Korea expert, Yonsei University, Seoul
For all the threats, there is no logic for war and sanctions have verified their inefficiency. So, if we want any kind of progress, we need to put our trust in diplomacy.
The United States message to Pyongyang needs to be:
"We want you to prosper and maybe after you have prospered you’ll be able to let go of the nukes because you are feeling more confident and you are integrating into the region and you want to be like the rest of east Asia."
However some individuals do not want progression.
As an example, if you are concentrated on non-proliferation, then there is an argument that you just want to attack North Korea on a daily basis and isolate them and keep them down to ensure that each nation that consideration going nuclear says to themselves: "Well, I sure don’t want to be North Korea."
There is a reasoning for that.
That is a terrific scenario for them. They enjoy the attention and it underscores their point that they are under siege by the United States.
However an escalation towards military conflict is not impossible. It is tough to obtain the balance. I do think there are real things to be worried about.
I believe South Koreans not sufficiently worried and not viewing the situation enough. I think the South Korean government is being too silent on the matter.