This idea that North Korea is threatening the US is grossly overblown and out of context. This is a relationship of cause and effect—actions by the West are being met with equal and opposite reactions. The latest escalation of rhetoric has been driven from Key Resolve and Foal Eagle—joint military exercises with South Korea that directly prepare for war against the North and are conducted on a global stage in South Korea. These annual exercises are just as loud a political statement/threat as raising “readiness” levels or official statuses, as the North has done—they merely suggest we are preparing for war.
However, if we are to call raising readiness levels and advertising capabilities “threats,” then why are the Western-led exercises not called threats against the North, when they really are exactly the same thing? To pour salt on the wound, we have flown F-22’s into position as a demonstration of force. Remove yourself from the Western paradigm: if these are threats, both sides are threatening each other. Why are our actions noble yet their actions reckless? I suggest both parties here have created a grossly dangerous situation out of thin air, perhaps led by the West, despite what misguided media reports have claimed.
Do not lose sight of December 2010, when the North was the one that showed restraint. The South was firing artillery off disputed islands, which can be read as bullying the North/baiting the North into action, and they received their response in the form of return fire on the disputed islands and the death of a few South Korean Marines. That is reckless provocation met with a reaction. However, when the rubber met the road a few weeks later and the South did the EXACT same thing (conducting arty drills of disputed islands), despite being fully aware of Northern rhetoric that this bullying would lead to war, it was the North that showed restraint and verbally condemned the South for provocation, but did not proceed kinetically. The same can be said for the sunken ship in March 2010; what was the South doing in those contested waters? (I suggest they were baiting/bullying).
The North is not suicidal, but like anybody else does not like to be bullied. The threat the West feels from the North is self-imposed—if it just remains hands off it doesn’t lose anything and will not feel the need to convince the world it is being threatened. This is a threat over-hyped by the West—it is not real. The US has no business intervening in the affairs in Korea—it was a Cold War containment strategy interest that holds no value anymore and has only caused bleeding of American assets (ie the false sense that the Okinawan bases have to exist and the vast sums of resources dedicated to the South Korean military).
The real recklessness in North Korean-US relations is the overhyped threat that falsely implies more resources should be dedicated to the region—this is what is escalating the problem. For whatever crazy assumptions we want to make about Kim Jong-Un and his father, what is clear is North Korea is not suicidal and is not threatening the US but rather responding to actions based on a false sense of Western insecurity. By becoming hands-off this problem will be solved.
As for the issue of nuclear weapons—these are being sought because the North has a gun to its head and needs to prove it can defend itself. Why don’t we just remove the gun? Action-reaction.