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TOKYO, July 25. /TASS/. The current situation around North Korea’s nuclear program indicates that the clock is ticking for the US on when it will have to make up its mind to either tacitly accept the fact that Pyongyang has nuclear weapons or use force, leading Japanese expert on security policy and analyst at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Bonji Ohara, said in an interview with TASS.
He thus commented on remarks by General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, about the possibility of Washington’s military operation against Pyongyang.
According to the expert, the complexity of solving the problem of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is the fact that Pyongyang sees it as the only way to ensure its existence. "It is impossible to stop such countries, which are dissatisfied with their rights in the international arena and are trying to change this, by demanding that they comply with the international community rules," he said.
That being the case, a group of countries that cannot put up with nuclear weapons developed by North Korea has no other option than to restrain it by force. "North Korea, which believes that its existence is under threat, cannot be stopped by military pressure only, so in reality it would indeed be necessary to use military force," Ohara stated. He noted that North Korea, which listens to neither China nor Russia, can only be contained through US force.
"The US will ultimately have to decide whether to tacitly put up with the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons (tacitly because it cannot do so openly), or use military force against North Korea, and I believe this time is fairly close," the expert stressed.
At the same time, no specific preparations have been observed on the part of Washington for using force against North Korea, the expert noted. However, even if such a decision is made, Washington will certainly face great difficulties in carrying out this plan for a number of reasons, which would include the enormous damage that could be inflicted on Japan and South Korea in case of a North Korean retaliatory strike.
If the US used military force against North Korea, it could be presumed that it (Pyongyang) would launch an attack against Japan and South Korea by all possible methods, including ballistic missiles and terror attacks through covert infiltration [into those countries’ territories]. It is not unlikely that major damage would be inflicted on Japan," Ohara remarked.
"The potential damage for Americans and soldiers in Japan and South Korea and for Japan and South Korea as well is unacceptably substantial," he noted. The expert added that there are those in the US who oppose the use of military force, judging by the fact that some experts tend to underestimate the degree of North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Speaking at the Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, on July 23, Dunford stated that many people describe military options as unimaginable.
"I would probably shift that slightly and say it would be horrific, and it would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes," he explained, adding that the use of military force in response to the growth of North Korea’s nuclear potential was not "unimaginable" to him.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula has remained extremely tense amid Pyongyang’s vigorous efforts to develop its missile program.
At the beginning of July, North Korean television reported the first successful launch of the Hwasong-14 ballistic missile. North Korea later announced it had successfully tested an ICBM, which sparked criticism from the US, Japan and South Korea along with a number of representatives from the world community.
Washington and its allies are in favor of stepping up pressure on North Korea, while Russia and China have come up with their own initiative, which is aimed at de-escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang does not recognize any statements or UN resolutions condemning its nuclear and missile program referring to the right of a sovereign nation to beef up its defense capabilities against the backdrop of Washington’s provocations.