As 2018 beckons, the question now is whether the North will conduct more tests until it can confidently deploy its new long-range missile, and whether it will detonate a nuclear weapon over the Pacific to demonstrate once and for all its capabilities. That would dramatically increase the chances of war.
The Trump administration sees the time for diplomacy shrinking. Tillerson said in December he hopes sanctions get North Korea to negotiate.
“Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to do this,” Tillerson said of all the pressure. “We’d just go straight to the military option.”