North Korea has been making headlines recently for testing its missile capabilities, raising concern in Washington that the isolated nation could be tempted to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.
The situation has not improved in recent weeks as the country tested its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) prompting Donald Trump and the United Nations to impose further sanctions on the country.
Here’s what you need to know about the situation.
Why is this being talked about now?
North Korea has repeatedly tested its ICBM and nuclear capabilities this year, and it appears as though the country may have the technology — or will soon — to launch a nuclear missile that could hit the United States.
The US, unhappy with that potential reality, responded to that threat by imposing sanctions on the country the could impact roughly $1 billion worth of North Korea’s foreign exports. North Korea has vowed to fight those sanctions with a “thousands-fold” revenge.
North Korea’s recent testing is a “huge step beyond, probably, where most people would’ve expected Kim Jong Un to be,” Howard Stoffer, a professor at the University of New Haven, told The Independent.
So, interested parties are scrambling to respond to that threat.
How did we get here?
Things have been stewing since 1953, when China, the US, North Korea, and South Korea agreed to an armistice that ended the Korean War.
Since then, the US and North Korea have been isolated from one another. While other countries like China developed into a major economic, political, and military powers, North Korea has been largely isolated from the international community by the US.
“This is one of the countries that hasn’t transformed,” Mr Stoffer, who previously held positions with the US State Department and with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee, said. “It remained a communist country. It remained an autocratic country that has never made its economy open up.”
But, regimes in North Korea have refused to accept a fate of being sidelined, and have been working on developing nuclear weapons capabilities that they hope will act as a deterrent that will force the US to negotiate with them.
What do the major players want, generally speaking?
The United States, for its part, is keen on North Korea ending it’s nuclear testing and development — and wants to ensure that the north doesn’t launch attacks on the south that would require America to come to its defence.
North Korea, meanwhile, is…