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These options are These options are based entirely on open-source materials, and do not represent a complete list of possibilities. CRS does not advocate for or against a military response to the current situation. A protracted conflict—particularly one in which North Korea uses its nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons—could cause enormous casualties on a greater scale, and might expand to include Japan and U. Complicating matters, should China choose to join the conflict, those casualty rates could grow further, and could potentially lead to military conflict beyond the peninsula.

CRS cannot verify whether any of these potential options are currently being considered by U. Conservative estimates anticipate that in the first hours of a renewed military conflict, North Korean conventional artillery situated along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) could cause tens of thousands of casualties in South Korea, where at least 100,000 (and possibly as many as 500,000) U. Some analysts contend, however, that the risk of allowing the Kim Jong-un regime to acquire a nuclear weapon capable of targeting the U. homeland is of even greater concern than the risks associated with the outbreak of regional war, especially given Pyongyang's long history of bombastic threats and aggressive action toward the United States and its allies and the regime's long-stated interest in unifying the Korean Peninsula on its terms.

If the Trump Administration chooses to pursue military options, key questions for Congress include whether, and how, to best employ the military to accomplish denuclearization, and whether using military force on its own or in combination with other tools might result in miscalculation on either side and lead to conflict escalation.

Intended or inadvertent, reengaging in military hostilities in any form with North Korea is a proposition that involves military and political risk.

To a greater degree than their predecessors, however, Trump Administration officials have publicly emphasized that "all options are on the table," including the use of military force, to contend with the threat North Korea may pose to the United States and its allies.

Consistent with the policies of prior Administrations, Trump Administration officials have also stated that the goal of their increased pressure campaign toward North Korea is denuclearization—the removal of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.

Estimating the military balance on the peninsula, and how military forces might be employed during wartime, requires accounting for a variety of variables and, as such, is an inherently imprecise endeavor.

Should China or Russia do so, the conflict would likely become significantly more complicated, costly, and lengthy. Some argue that these efforts have slowed but not stopped North Korea's drive toward developing a nuclear ICBM capability. Compellence When seeking to influence the behavior of states through the threat of inflicting pain or harm, at least two separate but related strategies can be employed: deterrence and compellence. Security Council, the United States led efforts to pass eight sanctions resolutions, including the most recent, Resolution 2375, which was adopted in September 2017.; signed into law by President Trump in August 2017) to strengthen actions already taken by the executive branch to implement sanctions required by the Security Council and to expand those economic activities in which North Korea engages that could be subject to penalties—including trade and transactions with third countries (secondary sanctions). To implement the NKSPEA and KIMS Acts, the United States has also imposed economic sanctions on entities in China and Russia for activities that allegedly provide revenue to the North Korean government, provide the means to evade sanctions, or boost the regime's ability to advance its WMD capabilities.As the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to evolve, Congress may consider whether, and if so under what circumstances, it might support U. North Korea's apparently successful July 2017 tests of its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, along with the possibility that North Korea (DPRK) may have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, have led analysts and policymakers to conclude that the window for preventing the DPRK from acquiring a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States is closing.Trump Administration officials have stated that "all options are on the table," to include the use of military force to "denuclearize"—generally interpreted to mean eliminating nuclear weapons and related capabilities from that area.As the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to evolve, Congress may consider whether, and if so under what circumstances, it might support U. Some estimates reportedly maintain that North Korea may be able to do so by sometime in 2018, suggesting that the window of opportunity for eliminating these capabilities without possible nuclear retaliation to the continental United States is closing.Combined with the long-standing use of aggressive rhetoric toward the United States by successive Kim regimes, these events appear to have fundamentally altered U. perceptions of the threat the Kim Jong-un regime poses, and have escalated the standoff on the Korean Peninsula to levels that have arguably not been seen since at least 1994.

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