Tags: Barack Obama | Emerging Threats | North Korea | Defense | Missile | Missiles

Nuclear NKorea Is No Paper Tiger

By    |   Friday, 04 March 2016 01:02 PM

Twenty-four hours after the U.S. persuaded the United Nations to impose what is advertised by the Obama administration as the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea, for its illegal nuclear and missile tests of Jan. 6 and Feb. 7, on March 3, dictator Kim Jong Un responded by ordering his armed forces to be ready to use nuclear weapons "at any time" and to be prepared to make a "preemptive attack."

China's late dictator Mao Tse-tung once derided the United States as a "paper tiger," but was reminded by Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev "that paper tiger has nuclear teeth."

Western media that regularly dismisses as mere bluster Kim Jong Un's frequent threats to make nuclear missile strikes against the United States should remember — and should report — that the North Korean dictator is capable of delivering on his threats.

North Korea has six mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), armed with nuclear warheads, capable of reaching the western United States, perhaps as far as Chicago, according to "Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea," a recent Defense Department report.

North Korea also has 50 medium-range Nodong missiles, at least some of them nuclear armed, that can reach South Korea, Japan, U.S. military bases located there, and the U.S. mainland if launched from a freighter.

Senior national security experts from the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations have warned repeatedly in articles and congressional testimony that North Korea's KSM-3 and KSM-4 satellites orbit over the United States at the optimum trajectory and altitude to evade U.S. early warning radars and national missile defenses and make a surprise electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the contiguous 48 United States.

The Congressional EMP Commission warned that an EMP attack that blacks-out the North American electric grid for one year could kill up to 90 percent of the population through starvation and societal collapse.

The North American Aerospace Defense command (NORAD) and some other military commands are moving key assets back into the underground bunker inside Cheyenne Mountain. NORAD is spending $700 million to further harden the bunker against EMP attack from North Korea or other actors.

The U.S. nuclear deterrent can obliterate North Korea, and that factor surely has prevented Kim Jong Un from acting on his threats, so far.

However, in a supreme crisis even the formidable U.S. nuclear deterrent may fail to prevent a nuclear attack from North Korea — as it failed to prevent North Korean aggression during the Korean War.

Nuclear deterrence hinges on assured retaliation against an aggressor. But North Korea could escape retaliation if it makes a nuclear attack anonymously, by launching a missile off a freighter, for example.

An EMP attack by satellite might also be executed anonymously, since there are so many satellites in low-earth-orbit. EMP attack will destroy satellites, ground stations, and other intelligence assets necessary to identify the origins of the strike.

An EMP attack could also paralyze U.S. strategic communications and forces necessary for retaliation.

Deterrence theory also assumes that the adversary is a rational actor, which Kim Jong Un is not.

The North Korean dictator is so paranoid that over the past year he has executed close relatives and dozens of his top military officers. A sadist, he watched the chief of his armed forces being blasted apart by an anti-aircraft gun in an arena, because the old man fell asleep during a meeting.

Hundreds of thousands of people are being worked to death in concentration camps because the dictator suspects they are disloyal.

Paranoid Kim Jong Un is entirely capable of imagining an international crisis where none exists. He could convince himself that the U.S. is about to attack "necessitating" that North Korea launch an all-out nuclear war.

Deterrence historically has also not worked well against megalomaniacs who think themselves to be demigods.

North Korea is officially atheist. In reality, it is a theocracy that worships Kim Jong Un.

State media describe him as having supernatural capabilities, including at some public events supposedly sporting a divine halo.

Caligula, the mad Roman emperor, is remembered to history as an example that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Caligula's infamous reign of absolute power lasted less than four years. Kim Jong Un inherited his absolute power from his father and grandfather, scion to a reign of corrupting absolute power spanning 68 years.

Kim Jong Un is Caligula in the third generation — armed with nuclear weapons.

What is to be done?

A more muscular response is needed than the Obama administration's warning to North Korea to refrain from provocations, and sending an aircraft carrier to reassure U.S. allies.

President Obama should immediately shoot down the KSM-3 and KSM-4 satellites, and enforce the international prohibition on missile tests by North Korea by intercepting any missiles launched, or by destroying them on the launch pad with surgical strikes.

Congress should immediately pass the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) requiring the Department of Homeland Security to protect the American people from an EMP attack.

CIPA passed the House unanimously and now awaits action in the Senate.

The president and Congress should work together to resurrect the Strategic Defense Initiative — that was foolishly canceled by President Bill Clinton for ideological reasons, even though the technology was ready to deploy.

Space-based missile defense can put an "iron dome" over the U.S. and its allies and is the only technological pathway toward rendering nuclear missiles obsolete.

Ironically, SDI — the much derided Star Wars — is the only realistic way to achieve President Reagan's and President Obama's shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum. He served in the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars."

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Western media that regularly dismisses as mere bluster Kim Jong-un's frequent threats to make nuclear missile strikes against the United States should remember that the North Korean dictator is capable of delivering on his threats.
Defense, Missile, Missiles
Friday, 04 March 2016 01:02 PM
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