Against North Korea, Deterrence of a Different Kind

MIN READOct 3, 2017 | 09:00 GMT

On paper, deterrence is fairly straightforward concept. But in practice, the policy can look quite different depending on the nations implementing and being targeted by it.

(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Since the turn of the millennium, war between nuclear powers has never loomed so near. As North Korea sprints toward the finish line in its race to build a credible nuclear deterrent, the window of opportunity to stop it is shrinking. With time running out, the United States may yet launch a preventive strike against Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, convinced that military intervention is the only way to halt its smaller adversary in its tracks. Within this narrow time frame, the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula will spike as the United States weighs the costs and benefits of attacking a country whose arsenal is already formidable. But should Washington opt against a preventive strike, or put off the decision for too long, the few options before it will be reduced to just one: deterrence....

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