The fiery war of words between the US president and the leader of North Korea could be dragging the region to the verge of World War 3. While the two countries showed no movement toward a real war footing, the recent display of military power by the US and North Korea, accompanied with threats, may lead to a devastating consequence, CNN reported.

A provocative military maneuver

On Saturday, US F-15 fighter jets escorted B-1B long-range bombers that flew near the North’s east coast. This was among the most daring maneuvers by the US Air Force over the Korean peninsula in decades, Aljazeera reported.

Following that, Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's foreign minister, declared that the country would shoot down US bombers even if they are in international airspace. Ri’s threats added to the escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea.

Surprisingly, when the US fighter planes were close to the North Korea shores, Kim Jong-un actually did nothing. On Tuesday, South Korea’s intelligence said the air-defense radar of North Korea might have failed to detect the presence of the fighter jets. In another theory, they also believed that Kim Jong-un might have decided to avert a confrontation. In both cases, it appeared to contradict the image that Kim Jong-un sought to portray.

Is Kim Jong-un trying to avoid war?

Some analysts thought that at the back of Kim’s belligerent rhetoric was an apprehensive dictator trying to prevent a war he could not win. They believed that the North Korea's leader was cautious enough to leave himself a rhetorical way out while he made threats.

According to Shin Won-sik, the country could not engage a war with the United States since their fighter planes could not even fly a substantial distance because of fuel shortage.

He added that the country also had a fear of crashing if its jets fly too far. Many agreed with the analysis of Shin Won-sik, who was a three-star general and was the top operational strategist of the South Korean military before he retired in 2015. This according to the New York Times.

In a briefing with lawmakers on Tuesday, South Korea’s intelligence revealed that the North Korea's military had already warned units on the border with South Korea to avoid making rash decisions in case of any eventuality.

The units were also reminded to immediately report up the chain of command before they take any action, Aljazeera reported.

Some longtime observers of North Korea, like Shin In-kyun, thought that the situation was indeed full of uncertainty. As a military expert who runs the Korea Defense Network, Shin suggested that the US should not overreact to Kim Jong-un’s bellicose threats. The country “may have the will but not the means to fight the Americans,” Shin In-kyun concluded.