North Korea’s latest threat of nuclear war is another salvo of incendiary rhetoric from the rogue nation, but it’s also part of a calculated power move by leader Kim Jong Un.
Experts say Kim’s fiery talk and defiance of the international community masks a core fact: His pursuit of a nuclear program is designed to establish the legitimacy of his regime inside North Korea and to gain international stature.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said last week that the consensus in the intelligence community is that Kim is “rational” — even though some comments from North Korea may not seem so.
Sheila Miyoshi Jager, a professor at Oberlin College and author of Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea concurs, “Kim certainly is acting rationally and predictably if his objective is to secure his hold on power.”
North Korea’s test last month established that the isolated nation had built a missile capable of reaching Washington, D.C., and other East Coast cities. Kim believes that the threat of a nuclear attack on the United States might force Washington to rethink its commitment to defend South Korea if attacked. North Korea’s ultimate goal is to reunify the peninsula.
Kim believes nuclear weapons serve as a deterrent and provide economic leverage for North Korea, Jager said. Kim fears he will go the way of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi — both gave up their nuclear weapons programs and were overthrown.