Even if North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, which took place last week, the third since President Obama took office, isn’t believed to really have been a hydrogen bomb as claimed by Pyongyang’s government, don’t dismiss the matter lightly.
The hermit nation's likely progress in developing miniaturized nuclear warheads coupled with known ballistic missiles to deliver them pose serious global threats, including to America. U.S. Adm. Bill Gortney of the American Aerospace Defense Command warned last year that Pyongyang has “the capability to reach the [U.S.] homeland with a rocket.”
Kim Jong Un’s regime is believed to have conducted a successful submarine missile test last month, and has worked with Iran on missile and nuclear technology since at least 1993. Included are exchange visitations of nuclear and rocket scientists and $500 million in Iranian financing for North Korea’s nuclear program in return for nuclear technology. Both rogue countries have demonstrated capacities to orbit payloads over the South Pole.
Recognizing that America’s greatest strike threat is from a small nuclear device detonated in orbit above our mainland following a south-polar trajectory, the Pentagon is moving NORAD’s early warning and command/control headquarters to a hollowed-out Cheyenne Mountain bunker near Colorado Springs, Colo. Of great concern is U.S. vulnerability to detonation of a nuclear device a few miles above land. The resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would disrupt a vast region of our power grid and general electronic infrastructure over months or even years.
According to an unclassified 2008 Congressional EMP Commission report, a year-long blackout would cause 90 percent of the population — tens of millions of Americans — to perish from starvation and societal chaos. Dare to imagine circumstances with grid disruptions shutting down all water pumping and sanitation stations; lights and refrigerators; TV, radio and Internet communications; and manufacturing industries.
All equipment that relies upon complex electronic micro circuitry would cease to function, including banking transactions, air traffic control operations and ground transportation vehicles, law enforcement communications, gasoline pumps, heating and air-conditioning, and tiny implanted medical devices.
Many military intelligence officials believe that North Korea may have already mastered the art of producing a miniaturized EMP-capable warhead that can fit either on an ICBM aimed our way, or be delivered by a medium-range Nodong missile targeted on Israel.
At the risk of triggering déjà vu, perhaps we shouldn’t draw too much comfort from Secretary John Kerry’s statement last week: “We do not and will not accept North Korea as a nuclear armed state, and actions such as this latest test only strengthen our resolve.” Does any of this seem at all similar to the resolve he demonstrated in negotiating a brand new deal with Iran?
Like, for example, trusting Iran to police its own commitments to temporarily freeze weapons-grade nuclear material development in exchange for thawing out between $100 billion and $150 billion in frozen sanctions and allow Tehran to purchase nuclear materials and the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them from North Korea, Russia, China . . . whomever.
And, oh yes, the matter of excluding any restrictions on Iran intercontinental missile development and tests in the arrangement.
Incidentally, Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council estimates that the negotiated $150 billion sum “equates to roughly a quarter of Iran’s annual gross domestic product, which last year was $415 billion.”
Center for Strategic and International Studies scholar Larry Niksch told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that North Korea may receive upwards of $2 billion to $3 billion annually from this largess, which includes about $50 billion derived from American sanction releases.
Added to that irony, Bill Gertz reported in the Washington Free Beacon that Kim Jong Un's regime even had the temerity to supply missile components to Iran “during recent nuclear talks,” which violated U.N. “sanctions on both countries, according to U.S. intelligence officials.”
Gertz went on to say that details of those shipments “were included in Obama’s daily intelligence briefings” but were kept secret from the U.N.
Passive responses to North Korea's broken promises are nothing new. Beginning with a 1994 North Korea nuclear accord promising a “safer nuclear-free future,” the Clinton administration naively counted upon Pyongyang’s pledge of honor to freeze their nuclear weapons program and allow resumption of international inspections.
North Korea also reneged on commitments to phase out a five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, stop construction of two larger reactors, and rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In exchange, America and its allies agreed to build North Korea two modern nuclear power plants valued at several billion dollars.
The sobering reality is that both countries continue to enjoy open invitations to barter for nuclear weapons and delivery systems without seriously overdue challenges. The most serious problem is a serious lack of any serious reason for them to take us seriously.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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