North Korea rhetoric reaching new levels

The Herald reports:

has warned diplomats in Pyongyang that it can’t guarantee the safety of embassies in the event of a conflict and suggested they may want to evacuate their staff, Russia’s top diplomat said Friday.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is demanding an explanation from the North Koreans asking whether the warning is an order to evacuate the North Korean capital or merely a proposal to consider doing so.

It is very difficult to analyse what North Korea is doing, because the leadership is so abnormal. The cold war between US and USSR never became a major conflict because both sides could analyse what the other side was thinking and would do.

The recent rhetoric from North Korea is much more aggressive and specific than in the past.  With most countries this is a cause for alarm, because you can’t back down from such aggressive language without losing face.

However as the regime controls almost all communications within North Korea, they can just lie to their people and claim the US has agreed to withdraw a warship or something and claim it as a huge victory. The poor people will probably never know better.

But there is a not insignificant risk that North Korea will want some sort of “victory”. They are unlikely to attack the US directly as that would be regime suicide. but could they attack some South Korean targets? Yes.

What if they lob a couple of missiles at some non populated areas in South Korea? Or sink a ship? Does South Korea retaliate? If they do not, then they may invite more unprovoked attacks. If they do, then war could eventuate.

My pick and hope is North Korea will declare some sort of fake victory and not actually attack. But this is far from certain.

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