My last Newsmax message began by noting that, “North Korea’s failed attempt [the preceding week] to launch three short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan is no reason to relax, as some have opined. A nuclear attack on America is still an urgent concern.”
Boy, was that an understatement!
Within hours came clarification there was no failed attempt. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman General Paul Selva assured us that North Korea’s technology still had a long way to go.
North Korea immediately discounted General Selva’s claim by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that indisputably could reach not only U.S. territory in Guam and the state of Hawaii, but also the continental United States — perhaps, according to some, all the way to Washington.
Still, those long underestimating threats from North Korea (and its ally Iran) opined that North Korea still had a ways to go before they had deliverable high yield nuclear weapons. See yesterday’s pertinent New York Times article.
As if in response, North Korea landed another heavy blow with an underground nuclear explosion creating a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey, which corresponds to nuclear weapon yields of some U.S. strategic systems.
Of even more importance is that North Korea explicitly implied their nuclear weapons would be used to deliver an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA News for the first time reported on Sunday that the “explosive power” of the hydrogen bomb was “adjustable from ten kilotons to hundreds kiloton [sic.];” and that the weapon was described as “a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke ... which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP [electromagnetic pulse] attack according to strategic goals.”
The Wall Street Journal responded early with an “on the one hand, on the other hand” article on EMP, understating the urgency of recognizing this existential threat. At a minimum it illustrated poor reporting, not normally expected of the Journal.
For example, the author did not consult with the nation’s most informed EMP experts, like members of the EMP Commission that is completing its current final report on these matters under a congressional mandate. The best the author did was refer in passing to the Commission’s 2008 report, while quoting other less informed persons as if they were equally if not more credible.
Tuesday’s front page Journal article again illustrated our need to counter this existential EMP threat by noting North Korea was preparing to launch another missile.
Whatever . . . North Korea long ago demonstrated its ballistic missiles can deliver a devastating EMP without reentering the earth’s atmosphere — contrary to apologists for North Korea still arguing such reentry capability needs to be demonstrated before North Korean ICBMs threaten us. Nonsense.
North Korea launched satellites in 2012 and 2016 like ones that can deliver an existential EMP threat by detonating one of its nukes while passing over the United States.
At least now, almost everyone agrees that we need to make sure our ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems are ready and able to deal with this threat — whatever may be our diplomatic actions.
As noted last week, our Aegis BMD systems can intercept such North Korean ballistic missiles while they are in their “ascent phase” after they leave the atmosphere before reaching apogee (the highest point in their trajectory).
U.S. and Japanese Aegis BMD ships are in the right neighborhood to do so today — but are they ready?
This capability was demonstrated a decade ago by the Navy’s operational crews. The only qualification for their current readiness is whether the crews operating our (and Japan’s) Aegis BMD ships near North Korea have been properly trained and are ready and duly authorized today. May it be so.
Finally, as argued last week, our Air Force and Naval fighter aircraft should immediately demonstrate their ability to use their Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) to shoot down North Korea’s ballistic missiles in their boost phase — and such fighters should be deployed on patrol around North Korea whenever a ballistic missile launch is anticipated.
It is long past time to get over the denial being perpetuated by a variety of North Korean apologists. We need action, not just words — especially words that suggest we have a lot of time to deal with this existential threat to the American people.
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Deputy Assistant USAF Secretary and Science Advisor to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. In the private sector he was Chairman of Applied Research Associates, a high technology company; member of the technical staff of Jaycor, R&D Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; a Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy; and Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clemson and a PhD from New York University, all in Mechanical Engineering. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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