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North Korea

North Korea’s nukes can no longer be ignored

A state media video of Kim Jong-un leaving a missile launch in 2022

There’s something extraordinary about the extent to which the world is ignoring North Korea’s “totalitarian madness and increasing aggressiveness”, says Jacques Attali in Nikkei Asia. The country is a “caricature of a dictatorship” – a “barricaded fortress” where 26 million cower in hunger and fear, imprisoned by a loopy autocracy that spends its time “threatening its neighbours with nuclear holocaust”. And these threats get more credible by the day. Alongside an army of 1.2 million active soldiers and another half million reservists, Pyongyang possesses “more than 40 nuclear warheads”. It’s unclear how many are small enough to fit on a missile, but you can be sure they’re working on it. Kim Jong-un has specifically ordered the development of an ICBM that can carry a nuke to America.

For too long, the West has dismissed North Korea as a “dwarf that thought it could be a giant”. That mindset needs to change. Not just because the global community can’t afford to “let a family of madmen have such a terrifying weapon”, but also because it could be the first domino in a process of rapid nuclear proliferation. South Korea is itching to develop its own nuclear deterrent to Kim, as is Japan. Indonesia and Australia would likely follow suit, and “Vietnam would not want to be left behind”. After that, how do we go on convincing Saudi Arabia and Turkey not to arm themselves against Iran? It’s time to wake up to the North Korean threat, and crush it by “any means necessary while there is still time”.