The Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US KCNA/Getty Images

Understanding the North Korea Threat

The US has talked itself into Kim Jong-un’s trap of exaggerating how much power his rocketry gives him. If the US could deter a much stronger Soviet Union from taking an isolated West Berlin for three decades, it can deter North Korea.

BEIJING – North Korea recently tested its Hwasong-15 ballistic missile, reaching an altitude of 2,780 miles (4,475 kilometers) during its 53-minute flight. Using a flatter trajectory could provide Kim Jong-un’s regime with the capability of hitting the east coast of the United States. Although it has not yet demonstrated a re-entry vehicle capable of surviving atmospheric friction, North Korea announced that it has mastered nuclear strike capability and become a full-fledged nuclear state.

Like previous US presidents, Donald Trump has said that this state of affairs is intolerable. So now what?

Before turning to policy, it is important to dispose of several myths that interfere with clear analysis. First, Kim may be a vicious dictator, but he is not crazy or suicidal. Thus far, he has outplayed the US in this high-stakes game, but he understands that a nuclear exchange with the US means the end of the regime he is trying to preserve.

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