clip_image002One thing that is constantly on the minds of political analysts is whether there’s a real risk of a nuclear war between the United States and Korea or not. While North Korea had been on a nuclear quest for quite some time, we’ve only recently seen threats and other similar statements.

Moreover, the first year of the Trump presidency did not bode well for the relationship between the two countries. Both Trump and Kim Jong-un insulted and threatened the other, seemingly not thinking about the repercussions their words might have.

Thankfully, we have yet to see any official statements regarding this matter or, far worse, an actual start of nuclear war. Given the number of nuclear warheads the US has, this won’t be some light shooting with air rifles as you’ve seen in the movies. Naturally, both countries are bound to give their best, so to speak, in the case of such an unfortunate incident. However, given the US’s massive nuclear advantage, it would not likely be a positive outcome for Pyongyang.

While the situation may have seemed tense in recent years, there has been no news involving threats or plans regarding this issue.

So, let’s see if the nuclear war between the US and North Korea remains a real threat. Even though what the two leaders say is important, it’s best to look at some well-founded statistics and consider the question, with facts.

The Beginning of 2018

Back in 2018, several people, including former US military leaders, warned that the US was closer than ever to a nuclear war with North Korea, largely due to Trump’s disruptive presidency.

It goes without saying that, in the first months of his presidency, Trump wasn’t trying to make new friends. In fact, he even went as far as to call the North Korean leader “Rocket Man,” and to imply that, if the US had to defend itself, it would “Totally destroy North Korea.”

Not the best start to avoid a nuclear war.

However, the two leaders met a few months later, at the now famous summit in Singapore. In the end, Trump stated that he and Kim will most likely have a “Terrific relationship.”

Before and after the summit, the issue of denuclearization was discussed. Initially, North Korea wanted to agree to do so, but Kim changed his mind – not once, but twice.

The 2019 Summit

As with the latest summit between the two – Vietnam, 27th of February 2019 – a deal has yet to be done. North Korea is said to have wanted to stop all the nuclear material production facilities at the nuclear site in Yongbyon but the US had to lift all related sanctions and remove any threats.

Trump stated that, while the North Korean leader wanted all of the country’s sanctions lifted, Kim failed to offer sufficient dismantling of their nuclear program, per the rules of this exchange.

Still, the meeting ended on a rather positive note, with Trump stating that he is available for further talks regarding this matter and that the relationship between he and Kim is very strong – he even added that he trusts him.

Is Nuclear War a Real Threat?

Now that we’ve loosely covered the last almost three years of US/North Korea interactions related to the possibility of nuclear war between the nations, it’s time to focus on the statistics that detail what is happening behind the curtains, so to speak.

For this, consider some of the data provided by Siegfried Hecker, one of the nuclear scientists that has been tracking North Korea’s nuclear program for quite some time.

Given that he’s personally observed the North Korean nuclear facilities, it is safe to assume that his data can be trusted.

Things are Getting Better

According to his statements, the relationship between the two countries – mainly referring to the possibility of a nuclear war – was in the red, danger zone, by the end of the Obama administration. However, Hecker notes that the first year of Trump administration was far worse from a risk standpoint.

Naturally, this was caused not only by the insults the two leaders exchanged, but also due to the fact that North Korea had made significant progress on its missile and nuclear programs.

On the other hand, things improved in 2018, as the data provided by Hecker shows us exactly what North Korea lacks in terms of nuclear power.

· When it comes to the production of fissile material, North Korea was still producing plutonium and highly enriched uranium several months ago. This is seen as a deep red risk in regards to the possibility of a nuclear war.

· However, on weaponization, it seems that things are not going as planned for North Korea. Even if it was shown that they were making great progress in 2017 with a successful test of what is believed to have been a hydrogen bomb, the country has ended testing anything new. This means that it does not possess a militarily useful hydrogen weapon.

· In terms of missiles, once again, they were making progress with their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and even had tested submarine-launched missiles. Still, they ended any missile testing, mainly because of the Singapore summit.

As you can see, the only concerning issue is the fact that North Korea is still producing nuclear material – even though it would seem they cannot weaponize it and hasn’t conducted tests.

Hecker also noted that the Singapore summit was the best thing that could have happened, as it made North Korea cease its missile development and nuclear testing. Therefore, while there were some missteps on the path to this summit, the result was still a positive one.

Concluding Remarks

As is evident, both the political situation and the relationship between the two leaders are in far better than in 2017. One might say that the two have now become friends and that there’s little chance for a nuclear war to happen.

Still, that’s not enough – which is the exact reason why we have Hecker’s data.

The most important aspect to take into consideration here is that North Korea has stopped testing missiles as well as ended nuclear weapons development since the Singapore summit. Furthermore, given the fact that there has now been a second summit, meant to address the issue, it is hopeful that the two countries could eventually reach an agreement.

Now that president Trump seems to be offering a positive view of Kim and actively work on improving the bi-lateral relationship, it may be possible to say that the risk of a nuclear exchange between the nations might no longer be an actual threat.