While the United States drags its feet to end the long-standing military tension on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea continues to develop its nuclear deterrence. On May 29, North Korea conducted its latest missile test — its third just in the month of May. Following the test, North Korea announced that it was successful in testing a precision-guidance system. The string of recent missile tests seem to have boosted North Korea’s confidence and underscores predictions that the country may soon test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Despite its declaration that “the era of strategic patience is over,” the Trump administration’s North Korea policy — “maximum pressure and engagement” — appears to be the same game, merely with a different name — i.e. increasing economic sanctions and war exercises to force North Korea to capitulate. While the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed that “all options are on the table,” a fundamental resolution towards lasting peace and normalization seems off the table.

The U.S. military recently conducted a missile test of its own–a long-range interceptor missile against a mock ICBM. On May 31, the Pentagon claimed that the interceptor missile successfully destroyed the mock ICBM off the coast of Hawaii.

As long as the U.S. continues its military exercises aimed at collapsing the North Korean state, North Korea has little reason to freeze its nuclear and missile program.

As Asia expert Tim Beal discusses in an interview with RT News, the U.S. will no longer have a military option on the Korean peninsula if North Korea acquires a working ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the U.S. mainland:

 

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