It won’t happen because there is no good reason why it would, because the motivation for our potential enemies to launch a unilateral thermonuclear attack is far weaker than their reasons for holding back. We may dislike and mistrust governments such as those of China and Russia, as they mistrust us, but the idea of one side nuking the other, and unleashing a massive war that would hurt it as much as us, is self-evidently ridiculous.
Yet this is the reasoning of the US government and the basis of the latest global crisis.
Of the 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, Kim Jong-un’s are the ones we have the least to worry about.
Even if he was able to crank up an ICBM, wedge on a warhead and lob it with accuracy towards an American city, why would Kim do something so blatantly self-defeating? Vladimir Putin, who commands more than 7,000 of the world’s nuclear weapons, would never dream of it: whatever the eventual outcome, the Third World War would put a serious crimp in some of his most important plans. For Kim, with 20 wobbly nukes against Donald Trump’s 6,900, such an action would be suicidal.
North Korea has one reason for developing nuclear weapons, and one alone — not to invite its own fiery destruction with an unprovoked attack, but to raise to an unacceptable level the cost to the US and South Korea of a regime-changing invasion. One of the laziest of the clichés about Kim is that he is a “madman”. It implies no approval of his cruel regime to assert the opposite: that North Korea’s leaders have displayed a malign brilliance that has allowed them to survive in control of the last Stalinist dictatorship.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons