The increasingly hostile and childish rhetoric reached new lows after the new year as President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un argued about the size of their nuke buttons. It would be funny if not for the unprecedented devastation that will be unleashed if one of these two actually follows through with one of their bellicose threats.

The only image that comes to mind is that these two will have big red buttons installed on their desk that resemble the Staples "easy button." Want to destroy the world? That was easy.

While it is mildly entertaining, at best, to watch these two compare button sizes like school children, the stakes for the entire world couldn't be higher.

Thankfully, the actual process of launching a nuclear weapon is a little more than just slapping a button. It doesn't appear either of these world leaders have been informed of that though.

How is a nuclear weapon launched?

The president of the United States has the authority to launch nuclear weapons, but he or she must follow a strict chain of command. Multiple levels of authentication are required from the Pentagon and down to the personnel responsible for carrying out the strike. Basically, the president calls for a launch, then proceeds with up to a 15-minute process of authenticating his command to ensure an accidental strike is not made.

What is very unclear though is what that process looks like on the North Korean side.

Kim Jong Un may have a button on his desk, but it is unlikely that the button alone would launch a strike. Unlike the U.S., it is hard to see anyone in the North Korean regime questioning or asking Kim for authentication. Kim likely enjoys a much more unilateral approach to the decision making due to his dictatorship status.

Looking ahead

The Winter Olympics are set to begin in South Korea next month. Ambassadors from North Korea have recently stated that they are open to talks that would include North Korean athletes participating in the games. It is a positive step diplomatically and one that could potentially diffuse the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Senators in the United States, however, have declared that they will boycott the games if North Korea is allowed to participate. This throws another wrench into resolving this crisis without conflict.

It is also possible that for whatever reason, war is being put on hold to allow the Olympics to take place. Many analysts have speculated that the springtime is the most likely time for war to break out and this could line right up with that.