North Korea's poor economy and a staggering GDP amounting to less than a third of Ethiopia has not stopped it from playing the war games. Like its dictatorial leadership of Kim Jong-un, the country too is steering towards a zone that is unsettling for the western powers and its neighbours.
Consider this- Without the Soviet backing and an equally unstable relations with China, how can a country as unpoverished as North Korea continue to evade nuke policies and build nuclear power?
Muscle flexing or defence mechanism?
North Korea has had a strong background of being a notorious state. And with Soviet backing, threatening the neighbouring countries became a spare-time activity since the 1960s. Until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the benefactor was gone.
And nailing the coffin was USA, which bombarded the Iraqi military in Pyongyang in 1991. Incidentally, the backing of the North Korean motif became clear when the ammunitions and the war residuals pointed at the country.
2006 was when North Korea shot back with the detonation of its first nuclear bomb, marking the beginning of a unique nuclear program. A survival strategy adopted by the the Kim regime, the program bared its teeth against the US and the South Korean forces who had any vested interest in retribution.
Then came the bomb that was half as powerful as the atom bombs dropped in Hiroshima. Another warning sign that the country was upgrading its defence mechanism.
Incidentally, it was revealed that North Korea possesses close to 16 nuclear weapons, which may rise to 100 by 2020.
North Korea is also working on missiles to be delivered as nukes. The U.S.-Korea institute at Johns Hopkins University has assessed Pyongyang as being able to put a bomb on its medium and intermediate-range nuclear missiles. These missiles could strike neighboring countries including Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
A tensed region
With nuke threat looming large, the Asia Pacific region is gearing up its own defence mechanism to battle any possibility of nuclear war. South Korea for instance is developing a cruise missile the Hyunmoo-3, designed to destroy North Korean missiles fueled and sitting on a launch pad.
Japan is all set to invest in the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. US, however is still wondering how to address the situation as any action may trigger retaliation. And North Korea would not think twice before acting as it has been indifferent to any sanctions and punitive economic measures by the International community.
China, however, has no reasons to worry. With the world's second largest independent economy, China has both money and power to brace adversities without help. North Korea has been a client state to China for many years. Although China does not approve of North Korea's involvement in nuclear activities, it also has its vested interest in letting the battle begin.
As a safety measure, it has canceled fuel deliveries to North Korea, but it does not want the collapse of North Korea either as it would land up with a number of refugees at its doorstep. China, in fact, is in a fix. It does not want a united Korea either because that would land up a pro-US regime in the southern border. So that justifies why China is more concerned with North Korea's safety and independence.
On second thoughts, North Korea's audacity rises from its unconditional support from China. But what is in store for the nuke history that North Korea shares with the world is something time will tell.