When the U.S. Last Faced an Emerging Nuclear Threat in East Asia

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tags: nuclear weapons, China, North Korea, nuclear war, Trump



An isolated, authoritarian state in Asia races closer to becoming a nuclear power. An American president contemplates how to stop it. Rhetoric escalates on both sides, and the risk of a deadly conflict looms large. Guam makes a rare appearance in the headlines.

That is the state of the North Korea standoff today. It has tested ICBMs that could reach the United States, and analysts believe it can make nuclear devices small enough to fit atop the missiles. President Trump said Tuesday that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it threatened the United States. Pyongyang responded by saying it was considering firing missiles at waters near Guam, a United States territory in the Pacific.

But change a few details, and it could just as easily describe the world half a century ago, when China developed nuclear weapons despite American desires to stop it. A look at that time reveals just how perilous such a situation can be, when a new nuclear player emerges and an established power tries to stand in its way. But it also shows that all-out war can be avoided.




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