War clouds are hovering over the Korean peninsula as North Korea and the United States escalate their bellicose rhetoric, warning each other of imminent attacks. There is an immediate threat to Guam, a tiny American territory with a strategic airfield and naval station as North Korea has made public its plan to launch missile attacks on the Pacific island, which hosts over 7,000 US military personnel. Though there have been frequent warnings of strikes from North Korea’s state media in the past, this is the first time that a statement, issued in the name of a general who heads its rocket command, makes a specific mention of the target, which is a major military hub and home to US bombers. The specific plan talked about launching four medium-range ballistic missiles within the next few weeks. This follows US President Donald Trump’s warning to Pyongyang that it would face retaliation with “fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before.” The US intelligence suggests that North Korea has successfully developed the know-how to pair a nuclear warhead with missiles that are capable of reaching targets on the United States mainland. The reclusive communist regime in Pyongyang is known for its propensity for bizarre actions, unmindful of the world opinion. Over 60 nuclear weapons are believed to be controlled by Kim Jong-un, a maverick leader who runs his country with an iron fist.
The latest show of belligerence comes against the backdrop of a unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council to impose strict sanctions on North Korea, which the communist regime has dubbed as an attempt to strangle a nation and warned a ‘merciless response.’ The fresh sanctions came after North Korea tested two inter-continental ballistic missiles in July. As war hysteria between the two countries is reaching dangerous levels, there is an urgent need for global efforts to avert the confrontation that could lead to disastrous consequences. China, the only major country having diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, has so far been unable to halt its nuclear ambitions. Any North Korean attack against the US or its allies in the present circumstances could quickly spiral into a full-blown war. It would be a suicidal mission for the impoverished communist country. On its part, the US also realises that any preemptive strike on North Korea would force the regime to retaliate against American allies South Korea and Japan. It also wants to avert, at any cost, North Korean missile attack targeting its mainland. In the event of any military confrontation, South Korea, a close US ally, will stand to suffer the most. Since war serves nobody’s interests, fresh diplomatic efforts, involving China and Russia, must be initiated to avert the crisis.