Op-Ed: How the nuclear weapons taboo is fading away
In the last several months, there have been several prominent calls for the U.S. to drop nukes in response to North Korea’s threats against the United States and its allies.
But many in the U.S. and around the world—including some who advocate for a nuclear-armed America—maintain that dropping nukes will end the threat of global war.
They are wrong on both counts.
There is no way to predict what North Korea’s next move will be. With its nuclear program, the Kim regime has shown it cannot be deterred. The U.S. has already destroyed much of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure. It will be more difficult than anyone realizes to deter the Kim regime.
Furthermore, a nuclear-armed America is not a deterrent. It is not a threat. There is no credible nuclear-armed “free world” to use in negotiations with North Korea.
In the long term, North Korea’s nuclear threat will make nuclear weapons a more appealing option for the Kim regime. North Korea will then be less restrained in its nuclear program, making them more dangerous.
The only way to stop North Korea’s nuclear program is to contain it with U.S. deterrent force.
It doesn’t make sense to drop nukes before containing North Korea’s nuclear program.
If the U.S. drops nukes before containing North Korea, and Kim Jong-un believes we’ve abandoned him—then we will have succeeded in our goal of preventing a nuclear war—and the U.S. and North Korea will have to negotiate a bad deal that Pyongyang will never accept.
We’ve already seen how North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is likely to develop in the years ahead. North Korea’s nuclear program has already produced the weapons that it can use to destroy the United States and its allies.
Any credible threat to North Korea made by the U.S. should