Why Kim Jong-un will never give up developing nukes
Dr Colin Alexander, from Nottingham Trent University, says Kim believes acquiring nukes is the only way to stop himself going the same way as other dictators who have defied the US.
But far from trying to get himself killed, Kim and his regime believe that acquiring nuclear weapons is the only way to guarantee they will not be destroyed by the US.
That is according to Dr Colin Alexander, a senior lecturer in political communication at Nottingham Trent University who spoke to Mail Online about the situation in the hermit state.
President Trump told the UN this week that Kim Jong-un is 'on a suicide mission' to develop nukes and 'we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea' if he attacks
Kim's family have long believed that acquiring nuclear weapons is the only way to ensure the regime's long-term survival and stop America from invading
He said: 'The reason North Korea wants to develop nuclear weapons is because the United States has weapons that can strike North Korea.
'Nuclear weapons are not meant to be used. This is about creating a credible threat - a deterrent.
'Kim saw what happened to Saddam, he saw what happened to Gaddafi, and he believes - rightly or wrongly - that acquiring nuclear weapons will stop that from happening to him.'
Dr Alexander explained that North Korea views America and its allies as an empire attempting to force the rest of the world to march to their tune.
The regime is determined to fight back against that - to preserve traditional Korea culture and a way of life that they see as incompatible with the west, he said.
Dr Colin Alexander, from Nottingham Trent University, said Kim is trying to avoid the fate of other dictators who have crossed the US
'If you go to North Korea and got to the demilitarised zone,' he explained, describing the unofficial border between North and South, 'the North Koreans will look over to the South and tell you "that's the American side."
'They consider the South to be an American puppet. They see the South as a conquered people. The threat they see is not just from [America's] nuclear weapons, it is right on their doorstep.
'The regime has bet on the development of nuclear capabilities and think it will prevent the imposition of an imperial power upon them.'
Because of this, there is no reason to believe the North will give up its weapons programme, despite any threats President Trump might make.
As for sanctions, Dr Alexander says they 'do not work very well' and often provide Kim's regime with propaganda material to prove that the rest of the world really is their enemy.
But unlike many fearful observers around the world, Dr Alexander does not believe the region is about to descend into conflict.
Asked whether North Korea would ever attack the South or Japan, he said the regime 'would never do that' because they would be 'reduced to a puddle' by America.
Instead, he sees the situation continuing along much the same path as it is now.
North Korea has developed a missile - Hwasong-14 - which is capable of ranging most of the US and claims to have a nuclear warhead which can be mounted on top
Asked how the situation in North Korea could resolve itself, Dr Alexander said: 'We might... have to accept there is just one more nuclear armed country'
Asked where that path would lead, he said: 'We might end up at a situation where we have to accept there is just one more nuclear armed country.'
President Trump has categorically ruled out allowing North Korea to develop such a weapon, saying bluntly in a tweet that 'it will not be allowed to happen.'
However, it seems there is little appetite for war on the Korean peninsula, as multiple rocket tests and a much-anticipated sixth nuclear test passed without a military response.
North Korea even fired two missiles directly over Japan, it's most outwardly hostile act to a US ally since it exchanged artillery bombardments with the South in 2015, and avoided an attack in response.
Two heavy rounds of sanctions have already been imposed, with a third one planned, though it has not stopped Kim's rapidly accelerating nuclear programme.
Most experts now agree that North Korea's Hwasong-14 missile is capable of ranging most of the mainland United States, while Kim claims his latest nuclear warhead is small enough to be fitted to the rocket.
If North Korea can develop the technology to bring the warhead down intact, then they will have perfected a nuclear weapon.
Footage of the rockets that were fired over Japan crashing into the ocean in flames suggests they do not currently possess this technology, but analysts believe they are only a few years away from acquiring it.