Posted on 8/9/2017, 6:44:21 PM by ckinv368
The world has watched, seemingly without recourse, as North Korea continues to rapidly develop intercontinental nuclear missile capabilities. After two recent tests, experts now believe North Korea could strike as far as Chicago or London. Those favoring diplomacy above all else—which has utterly failed over the past 25 years—must realize that North Korea is on the cusp of being able to threaten every US citizen on a whim.
Now, according to a report released by the Defense Intelligence Agency, North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that will fit its ballistic missiles. While North Korea may not yet have mastered the engineering for re-entry, that science has been set for almost 70 years. Coupled with today’s high-tech polymers, it is likely North Korea will solve the re-entry puzzle in months, not years. With the US now estimating North Korea has up to 60 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, the North Korea threat is getting much bigger, much faster than anyone anticipated.
What should be done? Many will point to the aggressive new round of economic sanctions the UN Security Council passed this week. But North Korea has been under one form of sanction or another for decades, to little effect. Even if sanctions are complied with by China and Russia, the North Korean leadership thinks nothing of allowing hundreds of thousands of its people to die of starvation. If sanctions fail—as they likely will—few options remain for South Korea, Japan, and the United States other than military action in one form or another.
South Korea’s new president—Moon Jae-in—initially campaigned on easing tensions with the North. He halted deployment of the US-built THAAD missile defense system as a sign of good faith. He has now reversed course. And he is not alone. According to the South Korean Yonhap news agency, the leader of South Korea’s minority political party recently called for the deployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country. The New York Times reports that some surveys show a majority of South Koreans favor developing their own nuclear weapons as a defensive deterrent.
Japan also appears ready to take aggressive military action. Its prime minister is seeking to change Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow pre-emptive offensive military strikes. And, according to Hideshi Takesada, a leading defense specialist in Japan, “if South Korea went nuclear, that debate would happen in Japan, too.”
The possibility of a regional nuclear arms race—with three allied nuclear powers in the region (including the United States)—may be enough to spur China to take action to deter North Korea. But, if history is any indication, China will still try to play both sides, with only limited effect.
This leaves the United States with few good options. The US doesn’t necessarily want either Japan or South Korea to possess nuclear arsenals. Of course, allowing North Korea to develop the ability to strike US cities at will—with the nuclear blackmail that would inevitably follow—is simply not acceptable. While the world rests in the hope that North Korea will come to the negotiating table, the US must prepare for an eventuality where that doesn’t occur, and military force will be needed.
Due to advanced weaponry, there is little to stop the US from successfully destroying North Korea’s nuclear weapons program—located both above and below ground. And, the US has the ability to kill North Korea’s leader almost at will—prior to a recent ballistic missile launch, US intelligence watched live for 70 minutes as Kim Jong Un smoked cigarettes and strolled around the missile. That was more than enough time for the US to destroy the missile and kill Kim.
The reason military options are fraught with peril is the expected North Korean response. The North has thousands of hidden artillery pieces and missile launchers capable of reaching Seoul, and over 1,000 ballistic missiles capable of reaching as far as Tokyo. It also has over 70 submarines and dozens of surface ships capable of inflicting damage in a defensive strike.
In conjunction with South Korea and Japan, the US must prepare a significant, and carefully choreographed, military contingency where civilians are quickly evacuated, while the artillery and rockets threatening Seoul are pre-emptively neutralized (perhaps through significant stealth bombing), North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability is destroyed, and, possibly, its leadership decapitated. This effort will require more than cruise missiles and stern statements, and will bear the hallmarks of a major military operation, with hundreds of bombs and missiles, dozens of aircraft and ships, and the full military might of the United States. Civilians will undoubtedly die on both sides, but the North Korean threat will be neutralized. No doubt, this is a last-ditch option. But, where the safety of the entire American people is at stake, we must be decisive in our actions.
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