EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent verbal exchanges between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have been among the most belligerent and bellicose to pass between any two major leaders in recent history. The North Korean nuclear crisis now resembles the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis between the US and the Soviet Union. Trump has several options with which to deal with Kim. All are problematic, and a few are truly dangerous.
Kim Jong-un is rapidly developing and testing ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs and is threatening the US and its Asian allies. President Donald Trump wants to halt Pyongyang’s race to become a nuclear power and has threatened Kim in turn. Both have said they will annihilate one another’s countries, and each describes the other as a lunatic.
Kim has declared that he will test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific, and Trump signaled that he is ready to use force by dispatching B1 heavy bombers close to the eastern border of North Korea. Kim responded by threatening to shoot down US combat planes even outside its airspace.
President Trump has several options with which to deal with this crisis. They range on a spectrum from doing nothing, which would allow North Korea to become a nuclear power, through diplomacy and sanctions to the use of force and cyber-attacks.
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