The U.S. should not be overly concerned about North Korea ever since Kim Jong Il died and his son, Kim Jong-un, took the reigns of leadership.
As a nation alone, regardless of leadership, North Korea is poor and weak geographically, economically and politically. No serious effort can be mounted when it is so lacking on all fronts, uranium enrichment plants and threats of nuclear violence or not.
North Korea is located high in latitude, meaning the climate is cold and poor for agriculture. Most nations who cannot self-sustain themselves make it up through trade, but North Korea has shunned nearly all foreign aid and trade beyond what they are forced to accept, which sacrifices the health of their economy and people.
As a result, their economy is irreparably problematic due to underinvestment, shortages and poor maintenance of their industrial capital stock, according to the CIA World Factbook. Whatever money they do have is spent on military investments, which boasts to have the fourth largest standing army in the world, yet draws away resources from civilians who have a long history of famine and malnutrition.
The greatest resource of any nation is its people. According to the World Food Program, one in three North Korean children is stunted, one in five is underweight, and malnutrition is an issue that continues to plague its citizens due to food shortages. What could have been their greatest strength has been reduced into abject poverty and hunger.
In January 2011, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned that the uranium plants brings North Korea closer to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike the U.S., thereby becoming a direct threat.
Politically, their closest allies are Russia and China. According to the U.S. Department of State, China has implemented UN sanctions against North Korea while also providing economic support since 2006. China is a fast growing economy, but it’s doubtful that they would sacrifice their progress and international relationship with the rest of the world by backing North Korea in an act of war.
Before Kim Jong Il died, he began agreement talks with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to stall nuclear weapon tests and production, and the Kremlin said in his statement that Russia is taking a peaceful and diplomatic stance.
Now that Kim Jong-un is in charge, the concerns are focused on the uncertainty of the direction he will be taking the country in, especially in talks of denuclearization started by his predecessor.
The U.S. should continue to keep an eye on North Korea and attempt to continue talks to negotiate peaceful agreements, but overall, North Korea does not have the resources to be a serious threat. If North Korea has any sense at all, instigating a war on any nation, especially the U.S., would be a losing battle from the start and an ultimate death sentence.
North Korea is an isolationist state in a global world, a small barricaded island in a sea of strong and powerful nations whose reach and resources far outweigh that of North Korea. A change of leadership changes none of these facts.
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