North Korean war: No way out for now

AS the US-North Korea conflicts continue unabated, US President Donald Trump is expected to continue to put more pressure on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to come to the negotiating table, the failure of which could spark invasion within the next 9-12 months, according to a research paper of a Thai brokerage house published this month.

It says after the Korea war ended in 1953, tensions between North Korea and the US have flared up from time to time and the former continues to develop its own ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons relentlessly to defend itself from the threats of the world power leaders like the US.

The threat started during the time when George W. Bush was the US President (2001-2009). President Bush declared North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as the Axis of Evil.

The tension between North Korea and the US rose this year when it was confirmed that North Korea has been successful in testing its nuclear bomb and lately Hydrogen bomb with inter-continental ballistic missile which can carry those bombs into the US territory.

With such ICBM and nuclear test success, the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has twice issued sanctions against North Korea, the first in early August with 15 members agreeing to stop importing coal, iron, tin and seafood worth one billion US dollars a year or almost half of North Korea’s exports and again in September with the UNSC deciding to ban imports of textile which is the second highest export items of North Korea, accounting for around 17% of its total exports.

The UNSC also bans export of natural gas and condensate to North Korea while reducing refined petroleum export to North Korea from 4.5 million barrels to only two million barrels per year aside from keeping the limit of crude oil export to North Korea at four million barrels per year.

US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

The sanctions announced by the UNSC did not seem to cause much anxiety for North Korea but instead made North Korean leader Kim Jong Un furious and that has led to the war of saliva between Trump and Kim, who threatens to fire a missile at Guam.

If the US has shown signs it is moving to wage war against North Korea by moving armed forces into the South Korean peninsula, ordering soldiers in South Korea and Japan to be ready or ordering moving of US citizens from this region, North Korea might move to attack first to defend itself and that could spark a war, the research says.

If war breaks out, it certainly will hugely affect the world economy especially international trade because the Korean peninsula is one of the world’s key waterways for freighters to and from China.

In addition, South Korea is the world’s key supply chain.  Over 600 companies world-wide including Qualcomm, which produces Semi-Conductor, are now supplying products to Samsung Electronics.

Another 250 companies are clients including Apple.  So if war breaks out, those products would become scarce and prices shoot up world-wide.

The financial market is expected to be affected in the short term as funds would flow out of Asia to safe heaven assets like gold, US bonds, Japanese yen and Swiss franc while commodity price would go up.

“However, we see the chance of war breaking out within this year being quite limited as the effects would be severe on both sides compare to the benefits they would get,” it says, adding that there are also other factors supporting this forecast.

First, the US is not ready where armed force is concerned.  It now has only 80,000 soldiers around the Korean peninsula which is considered a small number when combined with 250,000 from Japan and 600,000 from South Korea as North Korea alone has over one million soldiers ready for battle.

Secondly, China could side with North Korea and that means the impact of the war would be more severe for both sides.

A Chinese state-owned paper Global Times says China will intervene and stop America if it attacks North Korea first – and will only stay neutral if Kim attacks the US first and the US retaliates.

But if the US and South Korea tried to overthrow the North Korean regime, China will prevent them from doing so.

Thirdly, Russia, with massive nuclear power, is most likely to support North Korea.

“So we are of an opinion that war would not break out within this year but it’s possible that any attack which would lead to war could happen in the next 9-12 months.”


Top: On June 25, 1950, North invaded South, leading to the outbreak of the Korean War. On September 15, 1950, General MacArthur launched a surprise amphibious assault at the port of Inchon, South Korea, resulting in a decisive UN victory over the invading North Koreans. Within weeks, UN and South Korean forces had captured Seoul and cut off vital North Korean supply lines. Photo:

Inset: US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photo: CNN

By Kowit Sanandang