Repeated threats from North Korea have turned the Korean Peninsula into one of the world’s most dangerous hotspots. However, the situation also offers an important opportunity: A gain in strategic trust between China and the US — the two countries with the capacity to resolve tensions once and for all. If they manage to cooperate constructively in order to shape a peace acceptable to all sides, this will make not only Korea, but also the region and the world, a safer place.
Ten years after opting out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea clearly possesses nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear test in February — its third since 2006 — was likely a miniaturised device, which makes the situation even more worrying, given that successful miniaturisation is critical for using nuclear weapons in ballistic missiles.
February’s test provoked another round of UN sanctions, drafted by the US and China, triggering an escalation of threats and provocations from the North. The tension on the peninsula increased further with the annual joint military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea — especially when American nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 bombers were added to the drills.