Youngstown political expert concerned about tensions between U.S., North Korea

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A local political science expert said he’s very concerned about what he sees as escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States.

“It seems like it has escalated and escalated and escalated since at least 2006, but now it’s almost reaching a very dangerous point,” said Youngstown State University’s Political Science Chair Paul Sracic.

Sracic has been teaching and touring parts of the Korean peninsula, as well as Japan and China over the years. He has had a first-hand look at what could become a new global hotspot.

For the last few weeks, all eyes have been on North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un, who has been threatening to conduct more tests of his country’s nuclear weapons systems over the Sea of Japan.

Sracic said Friday the North’s posturing has been giving both South Korea and Japan reason to be nervous. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been growing for the last decade largely because no one has been able to come up with a way to negotiate.

“We’ve tried all sorts of negotiations, coercion, sanctions, and none of this has worked, and because the proximity of Seoul to the border of North and South Korea, any kind of conflict, any kind of reaction could cost tens of thousands of lives,” he said.

Sracic said the Un regime uses its nuclear arsenal as a wild card.

“He sees it as a way of sort of protecting his status. It’s not a rich country, it’s vulnerable, so this makes him, I think he thinks, less vulnerable,” he said. “In a way, it’s making him more vulnerable.”

Un’s government has been testing its ballistic missile systems for months, but officials worry another event could come as soon as this weekend. This weekend marks the birthday anniversary of North Korea’s founder.

Sracic believes Un has the capacity to fire missiles at both Japan and South Korea. He’s also working to build missiles that can eventually hit the American west coast.

Making matters worse, Sracic said no one seems to know for sure what Un has in his arsenal.

Both sides have started threatening to take pre-emptive action if they believe an attack is imminent.

“If we attack, we have to take out every nuclear weapon on a first strike, because the danger is, if we don’t, he’ll fire it off and that’s what makes everyone so nervous,” he said.