With the inauguration of the new administration of Joe Biden relations between the United States and North Korea, major military powers which have been technically at war for over 70 years, are expected to deteriorate considerably as the American leadership takes a harder line against Pyongyang.
Although U.S.-North Korean relations saw unprecedented improvements under the Donald Trump administration from 2018, including the first ever summit meetings between their leaders and moves by President Trump to symbolically step into North Korean territory, the first year of the American administration had seen tensions escalate considerably and brought both countries to the brink of conflict in 2017.
Although it was not publicly known at the time, the Trump administration had reportedly had plans to strike the small East Asian state with 80 nuclear warheads – which would be needed to undermine some of North Korea’s key conventional military advantages and penetrate well defended installations such as command centers.
The Trump administration was far from the first to draft plans for nuclear attacks on North Korea, with Pyongyang’s fears of such a strike being a key motivator for its investment in developing a nuclear arsenal of its own to deter such action.
One offensive option under consideration in Washington was OPLAN 5015, which would see nuclear strikes launched to kill the North Korean leadership. Such plans were reportedly updated in the Trump administration’s first year in office.
Tensions would subside after North Korea tested its second class of new intercontinental range ballistic missile that year – the Hwasong-15 – which placed the entire U.S. mainland within reach of Korean thermonuclear strikes.
The missile was deployed from mobile transporter erector launchers, many of which could be hidden from the country’s vast network of underground bunkers, which combined with the severe lack of intelligence on the country made the possibility of an American attack far slimmer.
North Korea has since developed a range of new missile systems including submarine launched nuclear-tipped missiles for a second stage deterrent, which have made prospects for an American offensive even slimmer under the Joe Bidden administration.
Military Watch Magazine / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2021.