Listen: Professor John Blaxland talks to Stephen O’Doherty about the North Korea threat. Above: Citizens pay their respects at the ‘Grand Monument’ bronze statues of Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
For the first time ever, Australia has been mentioned in North Korea’s threats of a nuclear strike.
It was in response to foreign minister Julie Bishop’s comments about sanctions, that the regime sent cold threat, saying Australia may come “within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK” if it continued to align with the USA.
In a chat with the Open House program, leading expert Professor John Blaxland said threats like this are fairly typical of the North Korean regime and, while serious, we have nothing to worry about yet.
Professor Blaxland, who is the acting head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University, described the threat as ‘bluster’.
“North Koreans currently do not have the capability to put a nuclear warhead on the top of a ballistic missile, and they don’t have the technology to send one to Australia,” he said.
“But it’s believed they’re on the way to developing both, within a few years.”
What is the North Korean Government Really Like?
While the technology may not be there yet, the will to do real harm may be, given that president Kim Jong Un was willing to see his half-brother and uncle assassinated earlier this year for political reasons.
“It’s an outrageous regime,” Professor Blaxland said. “They are deeply paranoid. The regime is built on a history that North Korea was bombed to pieces during the Korean war. North Korea sees the USA as the evil empire.”
A Reminder of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Professor Blaxland said western nations now have to work out how to respond to the growing talk of nuclear action, which has similarities to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis between the USA and the USSR.
“We face a horrific conundrum because of the the prospect of a nuclear missile-capable North Korea, able to hit South Korea, Japan and possibly USA and Australia in a few year’s time,” he said.
“North Korea is particularly opaque. It’s difficult to read what’s happening there.”
The Professor said military action was not necessarily a good idea, and he believes that even though North Korea is believed to be developing its nuclear capabilities, they are unlikely to ever attack.
“Nuclear weapons have only been used in anger in 1945 against Japan,” he said. “Since then the balance of terror has kept the use of nuclear weapons at bay. My sense is that Kim Jong Un while apparently mad, is a rational actor…there is a certain rationale about self-preservation.”
He is optimistic that the advisors in the USA’s Trump administration have the capability to make cool-headed, wise decisions.