Can Anything Other Than a Nuclear Strike Stop North Korea?

I have a question for the national security crowd.

North Korea clearly wants nuclear capability. They want it very badly because they think—not irrationally—that it’s the only thing that can reliably protect them from an American invasion. It is, right now, their highest priority by far, and nothing will stop them from obtaining it. Not sanctions. Not diplomacy. Not tut tutting from China. Not tweets from President Trump. Not B1 flights or carrier group movements.

In fact, even a conventional bombing strike wouldn’t be effective at stopping their program. Conventional bombs couldn’t get everything, since much of North Korea’s program is buried underground. And anyway, it would take time and invite massive retaliation, both conventional and nuclear, on Seoul.

That leaves one alternative: a nuclear strike. Am I right about that? The only way to halt North Korea’s nuclear program would be a surprise nuclear attack on every known nuclear installation in the country.

I’m asking because I’d like to cut through the fog and understand if we truly have any options here. Are there any other non-fantasy-based alternatives to stopping North Korea’s nuclear program?

EVENING UPDATE: I see that my point has been missed by some people. So here it is in plainer form: I’m asking if we have any real options with North Korea. We are obviously not going to nuke the Korean peninsula—I hope—so does that mean we don’t really have any choice at this point but to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea?

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