VT Expert: Don't over react to North Korea standoff

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) As tensions continue to grow between the United States and North Korea, many people around the world, and in our hometowns, are worrying about potential nuclear war.

But one local expert said it's not time to panic.

Paul Avey is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech who has studied and published work on smaller countries trying to combat larger ones.

He also was a pre-doctoral fellow with the Managing the Atom project and International Security Program at Harvard’s Belfer Center for International Studies, a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at MIT.

He said we haven't seen real action to this point, everything has just been talk and posturing between both sides.

President Trump said Friday of North Korea, "It is a very bad situation, it's a very dangerous situation, and it will not continue, that I can tell you."

While the President may be right about this, Avey said it's nothing new to hear North Korea make threats. They've been doing it for 70 years.

"This is actually a lot less belligerent than some of the activities they've taken in the past, like seizing a U.S. navel vessel in the late 1960s," he said. "The difference is, what makes people more nervous, of course, is that North Korea's nuclear capabilities and progressing. They just weren't at that level in the past."

Even on the U.S. side, it's only aggressive words from President Trump, but it's nothing new.

"The rhetoric itself does sound a little bit different from the President than past Presidents, but the basic message of, 'Don't push too far,' has been issued consistently throughout U.S. history," Avey explained.

Avey said small countries like North Korea and their leaders like Kim Jong Un know they can't single handedly beat the U.S., that's why there hasn't been a nuclear weapon used in nearly a century.

"He's not suicidal, and the evidence so far is that he and his family want to stay in power, the basic deterrents logic is likely to hold."

But Avey did say he would be nervous if the U.S. put troops in that region, or if there was an attack, either planned or not.

He explained, "If North Korea decides to carry through on it's threat to test missiles near Guam, and one of them were to hit Guam, that's essentially an attack on American territory."

And according to Avey, no President has ever had tolerance for something like that.

Trump also said Friday, "If he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast."

Avey did said Friday afternoon he's excited about one piece of new information.

The Chinese government announced earlier in the day in their newspaper, China will not assist North Korea if they start a conflict with the U.S.

He said this could be a way to reign in Kim Jong Un from what he's been saying.