Posted on December 1, 2017
North Korea: Could Britain Get Dragged Into War As Tensions Rise?
As international tensions continue to escalate over North Korea’s missile testing, many may question what role Britain would play if a war was to break out in the region.
The country declared itself a ‘complete’ nuclear state on Wednesday after testing a rocket that morning that it claims could strike anywhere on the US mainland.
US President Donald Trump told reporters: “We will take care of it… It is a situation that we will handle.”
While it’s impossible to predict some details of a potential war with certainty, here’s what we do know.
What would happen if North Korea attacked the US or one of its allies?
This instance provides the most likely scenario for the UK joining a war against North Korea on the side of the US.
If the rogue state were to attack the US, a territory like Guam, or ally like Japan, it’s been argued that Article 5 of the NATO treaty would likely be invoked, which states that an attack against a member should be considered an attack against all.
When North Korea fired a missile over Japan in August, experts claimed that war would have broken out if it had inadvertently hit the country’s territory, even if that had not been the intention.
Professor Anthony Glees, a security expert with the University of Buckingham, told The Independent:
“It’s extremely serious. Most wars happen by accident, not by design, and if these missiles had landed on Japan there would have undoubtedly been war…
“I think Japan would have been forced to declare war on North Korea. It would have been seen as an attack on Japan.
“Japan is a NATO partner. Retaliation is obligatory, it is not a choice. We know the US is a guarantor of Japan’s security. Even if they retaliated with conventional weapons against North Korea, it would then escalate straight away.”
“It was a totally reckless, dangerous act by North Korea. The whole world is lucky that these weapons did not kill anybody in Japan.”
Other analysts, meanwhile, have agreed that were the country to start a war in the region, Britain would be “obliged” to support the US.
Trevor Taylor, of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, has been quoted by Express.co.uk as saying:
“If there was a protracted war in that area as a result of North Korean aggression then the Brits would feel obliged to support.”
“If it was a very quick exchange we wouldn’t be there. I think it would depend very much on the nature of how a crisis arose and developed.
“If it was perceived what had taken place was American pre-empted action then it would be less likely the UK would feel it wanted to be involved.”
NATO spokesman Dylan P. White, meanwhile, said in August that the organisation was “concerned by North Korea’s pattern of inflammatory and threatening rhetoric”, adding “we call on North Korea to refrain from further provocations”.