Steve McGrath — for sure, this is a sticky situation. It’ll come down to who blinks first. Kim Jung-un will push hard to finish a missile capable nuke as that will be his best bargaining chip. He probably doesn’t want to go up in nuclear fire but if pushed, he’ll have nothing to lose. Also, who knows the internal workings of his government and who’s working against him. Some other strongman could be waiting in the wings for an opportune time to turn the populace against him. Just another reason for the man to rush ahead with his nuke development in order to show the people how he’s their saviour.
As for the West, I think we’ve been outmaneuvered by China and their proxy. I think we should push really hard for some type of normalization on the peninsula and let our Western ideals speak for themselves. China is coming around despite themselves as more of their population moves into the middle class. As people become comfortable, they become risk adverse. When they have nothing, like the North Koreans, then they have nothing to lose.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric does no one any good. The DPRK is too prickly a porcupine to easily knock out.