“He’s absolutely right,” said former North Korea nuclear negotiator Joel S. Wit. “This is not a credible threat, and it really hasn’t been since the 1990s. We’ve been pretending it’s credible, but it really isn’t.”

Such a move would guarantee devastating retaliation by Kim Jong Un against South Korea, Japan and the tens of thousands of U.S. troops there. Moreover, there’s no real way to be confident a U.S.-led military strike could destroy all of the dispersed and hidden components of North Korea’s illicit programs.

Throw on top of that the danger that Kim could use a nuclear weapon, and it’s clear the United States can’t strike first. It’s likely a coincidence, but South Korean President Moon Jae-in also publicly declared that the military option is not on the table this week.