South Korean Defense Ministry | Getty Images
In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, U.S. M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System firing an MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile during a U.S. and South Korea joint missile drill aimed to counter North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 5, 2017 in East Coast, South Korea.
“Although North Korea is unable to match the U.S. in terms of numbers, similar ‘minimum deterrence’ postures have been held by other nuclear powers including China, France and the UK, with deterrence premised on being able to inflict unacceptable losses, rather than total destruction.”
This could prompt increased sanctions and displays of U.S. commitment to the region, according to Dewey.
However, some analysts suspect that the move could provoke a more hard-line approach from the Trump administration, given the president’s previous dismissal of the North’s military capabilities. In January, the president tweeted that a North Korean nuclear attack on the U.S. “won’t happen.”
“This ratchets up tensions in the region, almost demands a tough U.S. response – especially rhetorically – and increases the chances of a miscalculation or error that could lead to a catastrophic war,” Professor Inderjeet Parmar, of the Department of International Politics at City, University of London, told CNBC via email.
“An ICBM launch crosses a line that Trump had drawn as inviting a robust U.S. response. It means that more measures might result from talks at the G-20 meetings in Hamburg from China and Russia.”
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