Fletcher in the News

Can North Korea Deliver a Nuclear Attack on the U.S.?: Prof. Lee Comments


Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

North Korea has displayed a formidable arsenal of rhetoric, threats and symbolic moves in its confrontation with South Korea and the U.S.

This week alone, Kim Jong Un’s regime has warned that “the moment of explosion is approaching soon” and said it’s poised to conduct a “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike.” North Korea also has moved a missile to its eastern coast, possibly for training and test-firing, according to South Korea’s defense minister.

North Korea is incapable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear missile, and its chances of winning -- or even surviving -- a second war with South Korea and the U.S. are poor, according to military analysts such as Joseph Bermudez, who have studied North Korea’s strengths and weaknesses in the face of the combined might of South Korea and the U.S.

…The U.S. has at its disposal an array of weaponry that includes 4,650 operational nuclear weapons, B-2 stealth bombers that can carry nuclear or conventional warheads, stealthy F-22 aircraft and Navy destroyers, submarines and a Japan-based aircraft carrier that can conduct air strikes.

“If there were to be a war, North Korea would surely lose, and the Kim dynasty would come to an end,” Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, said in an interview. “They are most unlikely to launch an all-out war. They are highly rational, just with a different set of standards.”

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