The death Monday of Otto Warmbier of suburban Cincinnati following more than a year in a North Korean prison shocked U.S. lawmakers and officials even as analysts acknowledged the United States has limited options to retaliate against the secretive Pyongyang regime.
President Donald Trump said in a statement: “Otto’s fate deepens my administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
But despite such tough words, military and diplomatic analysts said the United States has few options to punish North Korea. Not only does the North Korean regime possess some kind of nuclear weapon, but South’s Korea capital and largest city, Seoul, is just 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone which has separated the two countries since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
“There are no good options to retaliate in this case,” said Peter Mansoor, the General Raymond E. Mason chairman in military history at Ohio State University.
“It’s pretty clear something the North Koreans did to him caused his death,” said Mansoor, who served as executive officer in Iraq to General David Petraeus. “North Korea is already under sanctions for its nuclear program, but clearly we’re not going to take military action in this case. There is nothing we can do except voice our extreme displeasure and get the international community to speak about this.”
Mitchell Lerner, director of the Institute for Korean Studies at Ohio State University, said…