The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the trump administration has not ruled out a military first strike against North Korea should that country be on the brink of testing an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead against the United States. That such a risky option is being serious contemplated illustrates the grave seriousness that the White House regards the possession of nuclear weapons with missiles to deliver them in the hands of a regime run by a madman.

North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles for the past few years, stepping up the frequency of those launches as the transition took place between the previous Obama and current Trump presidencies.

The tests have rattled both South Korea and Japan, potential targets of a North Korean Nuclear Strike. Even China, which had tolerated North Korea’s misbehavior when it was just unsettling America and her allies, has started to become concerned and has cut off imports of that country’s coal in response.

The nature of a first strike against North Korea is, of course, not being revealed. Potential targets include that country’s nuclear and missile facilities. Kim Jung Un and the North Korean leadership would also be targeted for death, the idea being that regime change would become a goal of American and allied strategy.

The wild card in such a scenario is the enormous North Korean Army now deployed on the border with South Korea.

That army could attempt to move south in a repeat of the Korean War of 1950-53. Even if it did not, the South Korean capital of Seoul is within easy artillery range. What modern artillery would do to a modern metropolis is a horrible thing to contemplate, American and allied forces would likely have to neuter that North Korean land forces as well.

Short of a preemptive war, the United States and her Pacific allies are likely to augment missile defenses in the region. One military option short of all-out war would be to start shooting down North Korean missiles to send a message to the regime that it would not be allowed to threaten its neighbors with such weapons. How North Korea would react to such a move is difficult to predict.