The present strengths and limits to North Korea’s nuclear missile capabilities

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Does this make you feel safer? A U.S. military official today outlined the strengths and weaknesses of North Korea’s aggressive effort to develop the capability of launch missiles with nuclear warheads.

North Korea appears able to mount a miniaturized nuclear warhead on a missile but is still struggling with missile re-entry technology necessary for longer range strikes, a senior U.S. military official said on Thursday. “I think they could mate a warhead with a delivery device. They’re just not sure (about) re-entry,” said the official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity. “They’re endeavoring to overcome that.”

North Korea has carried out repeated nuclear and missile tests this year in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions and claims it has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile. Asked whether North Korea could mate the warhead to the missile, the official said: “I think they can.”



  • LocalFluff

    More devastation than a forest fire in South Korea (since they can’t hit a city), a nuke could wreck by detonating in the ionosphere, about at the altitude of the ISS at 400 km or so. Needs to aiming precision and no re-entry. Just up straight up over own country out of reach of enemy air defense, and detonate at the right altitude.

    That would create a electromagnetic pulse that destroys, really melt, all unprotected microelectronics in Korea, Japan and Northern China including Beijing. Millions of peoples would die in the aftermath, unless those countries have excellent civil defense preparations. The whole world would fall into a deep depression where no iPhones or Samsung phones can be manufactured for a few years. US GDP would drop by 20% or so immediately and unemployment would go towards 50% as most high value production in the world becomes impossible without the deliveries from East Asia.

    I think it is very important to strike first at North Korea, before they are able to even mate a warhead to a missile able to reach EMP efficient altitude. A nuclear obliteration of North Korea is much more humane than letting them kill several times more innocents by launching their EMP nuclear missile. Burning up North Korea should be China’s task to do.

  • wayne

    Totally on board with a (complete) decapitation strike on North Korea.
    (Personally, I make no differentiation between Chinese-Communists & North Korean-Communists.)

  • Chris R.

    I have heard conflicting ideas about the effect of “electromagnetic pulse” attacks.

    In theory, detonating a device in the air well above a target could create a pulse that would in turn damage electronics. The basic argument against the threat of EMP is the actual extent of damage that could be caused by a single detonation, and the cost-effectiveness of that device. I don’t expect an EMP attack to happen considering the resources required for launching the attack and having too many unknown variables.

  • wayne

    Chris R.
    –it’s considerably less theoretical, than you have been led to believe.

    “EMP results from secondary reactions occurring when gamma radiation is absorbed in the air. It differs from the usual radio waves in two important ways. First, it creates much higher electric-field strengths. Whereas a radio signal might produce a thousandth of a volt or less in a receiving antenna, an EMP pulse might produce thousands of volts. Secondly, it is a single pulse of energy that disappears completely in a small fraction of a second. In this sense, it is rather similar to the electrical signal from lightning, but the rise in voltage is typically a hundred times faster.”
    “On July 8, 1962, the EMP from the high altitude (250 miles above Johnston Island) “Starfish Prime” test (1.4 Mt) turned off 300 streetlights in Oahu, Hawaii (740 miles away).”

    “The Thor missile carried the test instrumentation and the W-49 warhead/Mk-4 RV payload to 248 miles. The test appeared quite spectacular from Hawaii (800 miles away) and at Kwajalein (1600 miles away), with impressive light displays from an artificial aurora lasting up to seven minutes. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from this test sent power line surges throughout Oahu, knocking out street lighting, blowing fuses and circuit breakers, and triggering burglar alarms.”

    There is a LOT of junk on the interweb on EMP’s, but if you do some digging you can locate data on size-of-yield, the amount of EMP produced & over what distance.

    The (relatively) easy fix for EMP’s, is enclosing electronics within a Faraday Cage configuration.
    (Military electronics have been “hardened” against these effects, but “everything else” will be damaged.)

  • LocalFluff

    @Chris R.
    AFAIK a nuclear detonation at the right altitude of the ionosphere, would cause an electromagnetic pulse at wavelengths that do burn microprocessors within the 100s of km of its reach. It would be too high to cause any other kind of material damage on the ground. It is much easier for NK to launch an unaimed non-reentry EMP bomb straight up that blacks out 100,000,000+++ people, than to launch one nuke that maybe hits a particular city. Even if Seoul was hit directly, only tens of thousands would die because their yield is so small. It would be less than the latest tsunami disaster.

    I think that the EMP bomb is North Korea’s first nuclear threat. Because they can do that much sooner, maybe already today, than then have any chance of surviving enemy air defense to hit Japan or the US with a nuclear ground or near ground air burst.

  • Lee S

    Are you guys REALLY advocating a preemptive nuclear strike that would kill millions of innocent citizens ? ??? ? ( Never mind what South Korea might think…. have you had a look at a map of the Korian Peninsula?)
    How about trying a change of track in diplomacy? It’s obvious that North Korea has an inferiority complex, perhaps a more inclusive diplomatic stance could reap results….
    Or how about a stealth assassination ? A small bomb to take out Kim and his top generals? Surely not beyond the capabilities of the mighty US?
    Whatever the solution, advocating a full on nuclear strike is not helpful.. ( have you even thought of the message it would send to other nuclear armed countries like… erm… Russia… and erm…. Pakistan and India… and erm…. Israel ????? )
    Rarely have I read such poorly thought out dangerous nonsense on here… Your attitudes are the reason the world is increasingly considering the US to be a threat rather than a powerful friend….

  • Orion314

    If ever there was a Hollywood movie script begging to be made for a real life 007 sanction on that NK LUNATIC ,THIS IS IT….any guy that brushes his teeth with is own piss needs to be put down, for no other reason than that…I think even the Chi-COM’s would smile if that were to happen. Even they realize an EMP is bad for business.

  • LocalFluff

    @Lee S
    I am advocating first nuclear strike against North Korea today.
    Better we do it than they do it. And that is the only two choices available. It’s sh!it but that how stuff has turned out right now. Accept it and act accordingly. Denying reality won’t help. That would actually instead murder millions of innocents.

    Of course the US must nuke North Korea as soon as possible. That is the best case possible. I wish it was better, but it isn’t.

  • wayne

    Our friends doubt our resolve, our enemies do not fear us.

    Our Political Leader’s have allowed untenable situations to develop, multiply, and fester, unabated.

    Our self avowed enemies crossed a line, a long time ago, and I am personally sick of worrying about “their citizens,” and what other people think.
    >That’s what dragged us into this mess; worrying about how people who want to kill us, feel about doing it, to us. Now, they have rockets & nuclear weapons.
    That, is a lethally destabilizing situation, and that bell has rung.

    Innocent people have and will suffer.
    It’s ALL a vicious, nasty, cruel endeavor on every dimension.

    I’ve been fairly consistent over time on the degree & magnitude of overwhelmingly lethal-force that should be utilized, when, for what exact purpose, and for how long.

    LocalFluff- thanks, I was fairly confident you were up on EMP stuff.

  • wayne

    Orion314– good stuff.

    a repeat from me…

    Hitchens on North Korea

  • Lee S

    @ LocalFluff,
    Some of your comments I respect deeply, some I consider “a bit out there”, but on this issue you are ( and the other advocates of a first nuclear strike are also ) plain and simple wrong…. not to mention misinformed and definitely “fluffy” in your logic…
    Feel free to address any of the issues I put forward against a nuclear strike, rather than repeating your opinion if you would like a discussion, but rest assured that your ridiculous stance is what makes the rest of the world slightly nervous of your nation.

  • Lee: It is my understanding that LocalFluff is commenting from Europe, and in fact I think from a Scandinavian country, which I think you also are from.

    I actually agree with you, Lee, on this. While I also think that there are definitely times when the use of nuclear weapons is morally right, I do not think it is necessary in North Korea, at least not as the preemptive strike. We have many other tools at our disposal that we have not been using to force a change in this situation. It is time we used them.

  • wayne

    I hate to be the war-monger guy. but, oh well.
    Not opposed to a first strike. Whether it is the “ideal” methodology to employ, is open to debate.
    I’ll just say– all options should remain fully on the table, up to and including a decapitation strike.
    We’ve squandered huge amounts of deterrence in a short time & that is not easily or quickly re-acquired.
    I would maintain; the world situation will continue to crumble and it’s not because the USA is the dangerous-actor on the stage.

  • Tom Billings

    The uses of Nork Nukes have been speculated on here, with pre-emption as a first response suggested. It is correct that the pressure limitations of EMP attack altitudes range from 0 km to 3 km, and from 25km to 400 km. It is notable that for this reason the nuclear warhead-bearing Spartan/Sprint ABM System had attack range altitudes from 400km upwards for Spartan, and from 25km down to 5 km for Sprint. The key point is objectives of an attack.

    The Kim Dynasty needs money for their State to survive, and that is why it is building these missiles and warheads. Killing millions of the citizens of its nearest neighbors through EMP will not get the Kim Dynasty one cent. It needs money to buy what its enslaved population cannot make on their own. At the moment their best bets are counterfeiting, extortion and selling to Tehran and whoever else will pay them for missile/nuclear expertise. Both have worked in the past.

    What can cut off an EMP strike and can also cut off a more accurate low rate-of-fire strike at the cities of other countries, including the US, when Kim gets one? The GPALS (Global Protection Against Limited Strikes) system was ready for development and in negotiation 25 years ago to cut both such types of attacks off at the knees, long before they reach anyone else’s territory. It is a boost-phase system. It was round-filed in January of 1993 by a Clinton Administration so worried it would lose the then left-wing of the Democratic Party that they would not continue with the negotiations with Russia for a common defense against small countries like North Korea. Since then, the Russians were so pissed at the insult of cutting off those negotiations that the Great Russia faction in the Kremlin got its first real start, and the then Left-wing of the Democratic Party has *become* the Democratic Party.

    A modernized version of that system is one first means of dealing with both types of strikes, and of bringing Nork nuclear extortion to an end. A good second layer in ABM defense would be accelerating the multi-interceptor warhead program that Congress restarted in 2015, after it was cancelled in 2009 in yet another Clinton attempt to “reset” US-Russian relations with the head of the Great Russia faction in the Kremlin, Vlad Putin. While restarted, the Obama Administration has slow-marched its progress, with a definite start for development not even scheduled until 2022. It should be restarted in full development on January 20th 2017.

  • Orion314

    Not to kick a dead dog, but it would seem a drone strike, or if the storys are true, a remote non nuclear strike ( i.e. Project Thor) would be an easy way to go…no radiation probs, and plausible deniability out the wazoo, if there if is one thing the USG is really good at , it’s wet work….

  • Mitch S.

    The EMP that affected Hawaii was from a 1.4 megaton hydrogen warhead.
    I’m unclear how much affect a sub 20 kiloton detonation would have.

    As far as dealing with No Korea, I agree nukes are a last resort.
    A big question here is what game are the Chinese playing?
    Why are they OK with a “loose cannon” with nukes on their border?
    Surely China could starve or snuff out Kim and underlings if they want to – it would enhance their stature and they’d get little complaint from the rest of the world.
    Is Kim part of a plan to strike Japan? “Sorry about Tokyo, that Kim is out of control but we’ll stop him now…”

    BTW aren’t we glad Clinton “solved” the No Korean nuke problem back in the ’90’s?
    Gives me so much confidence the Iran deal will keep them from a bomb…

  • wayne

    -my understanding is: the blast yield & the EMP produced, don’t have a linear relationship, and the location of the detonation above Earth, make all the difference. (I believe Tom hit on that briefly above.) I do not know what the minimum “physics-package” size would be required.
    –The pulse is best propagated at a specific altitude & in relation to where the magnetic fields are surrounding the Earth.
    My understanding is North America is in a bad Zone.

    I’ll lighten up my war-mongering a bit;
    I would LIKE to first-strike these NK’s, but I do realize it’s not the most expedient nor efficient method in which to accomplish our goals.
    I fear however, our enemies fail to fully appreciate the ability we have to utterly destroy them.

  • Mitch S.

    PS that should be “effect” not affect!
    (migraine’s will do that..)

    Is N.A. in a “bad zone” for Americans who like to chat online or for our enemies who want to disable us?

    They likely understand our capabilities, it’s the will that is fuzzy.
    If China covertly guides N.K. to nuke Japan, sure N.K. is toast but even if we suspect China is behind it do we…?
    If Iran slips Hesbollah a bomb to sneak into Israel, Europe or even the US, then sends condolences and promises to “crack down” on the rouge elements, do we vaporize Tehran?

    Not only are there moral considerations, there are political ones too.
    An admin might be inclined to let China or Iran (especially if the US wasn’t the target) get away with it to prevent the political/economic fallout (and in the case of China retaliation) perhaps with a backchannel message “don’t do that ever again”.

  • Cotour

    Lee S,

    I tend to be more confident in the carrot and stick with consequences or rewards kind of international relations, no one wants to start throwing nukes around. North Korea is more interested in threats in return for resources, it would be a fatal and permanent mistake for them to initiate a nuclear launch. I would think a more conventional conflict would be more likely.

  • wayne

    From my limited understanding, North America is in a zone where an EMP could easily propagate. Get a warhead to the right altitude

    I have no doubt the Iranian’s and N Korean’s “want to throw nuke’s around.” Nuclear weapons are useless unless the political-will to utilize them exists.

  • Mitch S

    BTW I suppose the N.Korea and China scenarios I mentioned could be filed under “SOM”.

  • LocalFluff

    What I read online, haphazardly, is that the size of the nuke isn’t very important. EMP nukes seems to be the perfect WMD for the new nuclear nation. Especially one that North Korea doesn’t have much electronic infrastructure to lose. With monopoly on nukes and chemical weapons NK might very well be able to run over South Korea’s conventional troops and their powerless, starving unproductive crises society.

    My point is that an EMP nuke detonated in space straight above North Korea is much easier to do and becomes possible much sooner, than the ability to hit a specific target on the ground overseas. It might very well turn out that anti-missile systems develop faster than NK can produce nukes and launchers. So the EMP-nuke at home might be the only option they seriously consider. This is much more a threat to China (and SK and Japan) than to the US, so they should take care of the problem. I’m afraid that the US nanny world state policy has pacified the good forces in the world, waiting for the US to take care of everything with their blood and money.

    Lee S
    Diplomacy has taken us to where we are today. Nuclear proliferation has accelerated during Obama’s regime. More of what is failing doesn’t sound like a good idea.
    Taking out Kim would certainly lead to all out war. An entire people is programmed to go to war blindly at the moment they are so ordered. Their artillery should be cleaned away proactively.
    Other nuclear powers would see that the US (or preferably China) effectively uses force to protect themselves and other human beings from war and tyranny. Particularly Israel would do good in interpreting it as a go ahead to eliminate Iran’s and Saudi’s abilities to manufacture nuclear weapons, killing all their government members and their families while at it to bring the message home.

  • Edward

    Lee S wrote to previous commenters: “Or how about a stealth assassination ? A small bomb to take out Kim and his top generals? Surely not beyond the capabilities of the mighty US?

    and: “Your attitudes are the reason the world is increasingly considering the US to be a threat rather than a powerful friend….

    The attitude of a preemptive nuclear strike (which the US has not proposed) may cause the world to consider the US to be a threat rather than a friend, but I think that an assassination would give similar results. The US thought so, too, half a century ago and made even government-sanctioned assassinations illegal.

    Then again, the US keeps being asked by the world to use military force to solve various world problems, then the reward is that many call the US a bully or colonialist or both.

    The last time the US used nuclear force to solve a world problem, she did so to save millions of lives. The estimate was at least one million American lives, and there was no estimate on how many millions or tens of millions of Japanese lives would have been lost during an invasion of Japan. Yet, despite the saved lives, the US has been criticized world wide for using nuclear force.

    Clearly, taking preemptive actions, while it may save lives in the long run, is not seen as a good thing.

    The moral question has been posed: “If you could go back in time and kill the young Adolf Hitler, would you do so?”

    The world’s reaction to preemptive strikes shows that the world’s answer is no.

  • Cotour

    And thus is invented the “false flag”.

    “The attitude of a preemptive nuclear strike (which the US has not proposed) may cause the world to consider the US to be a threat rather than a friend, but I think that an assassination would give similar results. The US thought so, too, half a century ago and made even government-sanctioned assassinations illegal.”

    Sometimes subjective strategy demands it. (Im not saying it is a good thing but I am saying that it does occur)

  • Edward

    My point was more along the lines of the no-win situation. Even when the US does as the world asks and performs heroic deeds, such as rescuing countries and turning their control back over to their own people, she still winds up being the scary bad guy. Thus, even when the subjective strategy demands it, those in the rest of the world lose their good opinion of her.

    “Yankee, go home” is an old phrase, usually used on the very Americans who were asked by the host countries to rescue and to safeguard those countries as well as those using the phrase.

  • Cotour

    I heard someone say : America makes a good enemy and a bad friend.

  • wayne

    “If you’re confused about what to do, it’s a sign that your enemy is winning.”
    On War
    Book 1
    Carl von Clausewitz

  • wayne

    “There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult—to begin a War and to end it.”
    Alexis de Tocqueville
    Book Three, Chapter XXII

  • Garry

    I forgot who said it, but I’ve always been partial to (probably not exact wording) “At some point in every battle, every general is convinced he’s losing; the winner is the one who doesn’t surrender right away.”

    Deterrence can be restored quickly; all it takes is a credible capability and a credible willingness to use it. The tricky part is winding back the enemy’s gains he made before the restoring of deterrence.

    There are plenty of options short of a nuclear strike, which would open not a new can of worms but many new barrels of snakes.

  • wayne

    -that’s definitely a Clausewitz paraphrase, but I can’t readily locate it. (90% confidence level, but it may not be original to him. I think I’ve seen a similar comment attributed to Napoleon, as well.)

    I’m going to counter-differ slightly on the Deterrence ‘thang.

    I’d would put forth that deterrence only works on rational-actors. North Korea and Iran, to name but 2 of many— “non-rational actors.” And I would put forth they both operate as apocalyptic suicide death-cults.
    (–The whole world would thank-us, but I really don’t care what anyone, including our enemies and detractors say, anymore. They can STFU or get moved to the top of the List.)

    We already have an overwhelming capability, but what we do not have, is a credible willingness to utilize it. (The only reason the old soviet-union never struck us, was because they knew in their commie-statist hearts, we would strike them dead, instantly.)

    I do sorta dislike being, “that guy,” but, oh well. I already consider them to be at War with us. Personally, I’m sick of It All. Words cannot express the degree to which I am utterly sick of these alleged-people and I don’t care whatsoever, what methodology is used to eliminate their threat, once-and-forever.

  • pzatchok

    Doing anything to effect Nk is not a good option.

    First off has anyone heard saying ‘you break it you bought it’.
    Well go ahead and kill all the leaders of NK. Good job.
    IF you manage to take it over without the brain washed masses and solders fighting you, who is willing to take over?
    And who is going to run that country like a good communist nation should be run.
    Those people are not in a position or shape to manage themselves. They do not own any of the land let alone have the knowledge to plant crops on it if they did. They will starve even worse.
    SK is willing to take over and manage them, but they do not have the resources.
    Would China stay out of NK or take the opportunity to take it over?
    China would be the best option for supplying the food to NK for the short term, would they be willing to feed millions? For a few years?

    The best option would be to kidnap a few families of the top generals. Then attempt an assassination.
    The generals would think their dear leader took their families and the dear leader would think the generals had smuggled their families out for safety.
    You might have to extract the family members from ‘political’ prisons since Dear Leader is more than likely holding them as captives.
    The hard part is finding someone inside Nk who is friendly to the outside world and is willing to take over.

    As for EMP effects.
    ALL those tests were done BEFORE grounding, fuses and circuit breakers were common.
    Not one. No radios on ANY ship or aircraft around the Hawaiian Islands were effected. Not a single one. Civilian or naval. Not one ittem not plugged into the grid were effected.
    EMP requires long linear power lines to propagate and become effective.

    I work in the industry and we specifically design board traces to not pick up any stray electronic signals or even EMP.s. Our lives depend on this and we take it seriously.

  • Garry

    I don’t know who would be in charge of a defeated / collapsed North Korea, but I do know that Japan is the best equipped to help them revamp their agriculture and other industries, not only building good infrastructure from what’s already in place, but training workers on all levels. No other country does this on the scale that Japan does, or as effectively.

    One complication may be that Japan might want some of their trainees to emigrate to Japan to serve as the blue collar workers who are getting in shorter and shorter supply. Or it might want no part of them going to Japan; it’s hard to tell which way they would go.

    Japan has among the lowest percentage of foreign residents, and the majority of them are Koreans who were brought to Japan before and during World War 2, and their descendants. Most of them know only Japan and speak only Japanese, yet they hold Korean passports and are not fully integrated into society.

    My gut tells me it’s mostly up to China to figure out what happens to North Korea when the collapse comes. China would be foolish not to let Japan help pick up the pieces, but that’s probably the default setting.

    I just hope there’s little collateral damage when the collapse does come.

  • Wayne

    I’ll continue to be “that guy.” I don’t make or implement Policy, but I do support certain actions.

    — Not advocating “taking over” NK. And, not opposed to a decapitation strike. Their Command/Control/Communications structures, aren’t all that target rich.”Kick in the front door and whole corrupt mess will fall on it’s own weight.”
    Also– absolutely not advocating we “help” any of them, afterward.
    We strike, they die.–I’m way past the line of worrying about ethics & morality. When a decision is made to annihilate one’s enemies, I don’t care how mechanically, that is accomplished.

    As LocalFluff touched upon briefly– the “demilitarized zone,” is the most heavily militarized zone on Earth, their forward artillery needs to be radiated first, before they can shell S.K. I’d advocate we use our Neutron Bomb technology, but all those programs were cancelled; so we’re left with overpressure and prompt-radiation. The resulting firestorms, are just icing on the cake.

    Not an engineer.
    The EMP effect was first noticed in action at the Trinity test. One of the Physicists had predicted a pulse & insisted his instrumentation be shielded. Numerous other occasion’s, test-data was lost due to electromagnetic & ionizing radiation effects, until they took elaborate steps to shield their instrumentation.

    The Starfish Prime series of tests, wasn’t primarily intended to explore EMP effects.
    Reference the Hardtack 1 test-series & the Argus test-series where warheads were detonated at 100, 182, and 466 miles above Earth, to determine military effects of injecting charged particles into the radiation belts surround Earth.

    “Operation Argus was the only clandestine test series in the 17 year history of atmospheric testing. It was secretly conducted in the South Atlantic, 1100 miles southwest of Capetown, South Africa. Argus consisted of three very high altitude test shots of the W-25 warhead to investigate the effects of nuclear explosions outside of the atmosphere – how the charged particles and radioactive isotopes released would interact with the Earth’s magnetic field which could potentially interfere with radar tracking, communications, and the electronics of satellites and ballistic missiles. To investigate the effect of trapped radiation in the Earth’s magnetic field it was important pick a test site where the magnetic field configuration could trap and hold charged particles efficiently – this dictated test between 35 and 55 degree (either north or south of the equator). The altitude limit of the available missile dictated a southern hemisphere test since the fact that the global magnetic field is centered about 200 miles off-center from the Earth’s geometric center brings the stable trapping region 400 miles closer to the surface there.”

    Tom Billing’s touched briefly upon the altitude’s in which our nuclear tipped ABM weapons operate. And they do so, precisely to minimize collateral effects over our own homeland.

    An EMP occurs when gamma radiation interacts with the atmosphere. Damage to the analog, 1950’s style electrical system in Hawaii was easily repaired. Subject 50 million IPhones to the same radiation effects, and they won’t work.

    Part of the reason “military electronics” cost so much— the chips & circuit boards have been hardened against effects of radiation. Commercial variants do not have that protection.

    Ok– so we’re not going to do anything to the NK’s.
    What about the Iranian’s? Is a nuclear strike against them, off the table as well?

    Personally, I’m sick of doing stuff, the same-old-way-we-always-have, and expecting a different result. Time to go Medieval all over our enemies.
    Once is enough, the other malcontents will fall in line, or be moved to the top of the List.

  • LocalFluff

    “There are plenty of options short of a nuclear strike”
    Are there really? What such options does the dictator of North Korea contemplate?
    I think they are preparing to invade the South with the advantage of EMP, battlefield nukes and chemical weapons. Everything they do and say points very clearly in that direction. There might be some conspiracy theories around which claim that NK leadership is good after all, that they just play bad in public in order to polish their brand name(!), but I wouldn’t bet such an important thing as a nuclear war on that kind of made up wishful thinking. I’d strike now, immediately and totally. Planning and initiating a nuclear war is very much better than improvising when the enemy starts it. Anything is better than having them do it, and that is inevitable, just a matter of time. They starve their own people just in order to be able to start a nuclear war. They are very determined and convincing.

    About what other governments would think of it. Well, it doesn’t concern them, it isn’t any of their business if the US nukes North Korea. Why do some people here think that they had a say about it? The only rational response for them would of course be to stay out of the way.

    I want to add the upcoming secretary of defense quote to other quotes here:
    “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
    That’s to the point. War is about convincing the enemy to beg for peace. It doesn’t end until then.

  • Wayne

    LocalFluff- good stuff.

  • LocalFluff

    “EMP requires long linear power lines to propagate and become effective.”

    That’s not my impression, but I’m not a physicist. I think that EMP actually melts all microelectronic circuits. And the range is described more by the Earth’s magnetic field than spherically around the detonation. One can be safer nearer than further away. Long power lines, as you mention, are vulnerable to Solar events, but nuclear EMP is another kind of beast. It irreparably burns all electronic devises within reach, with a complete cease of production in society as an immediate and long lasting consequence. And of course then most people die within a couple of weeks without any food, and then the death toll accelerates when all the cities are filled with starvation corpses and the plague gets a hold in them and kills most of the rest, even those who found something to eat for the day. That is the alternative to striking first and eliminating the threat.

  • Wayne

    Garry- good stuff. (8:05am)

    >The Chi-Coms have recently completed large sections of a new “Wall” on the NK border.

  • Cotour


    “I do sorta dislike being, “that guy,” but, oh well. I already consider them to be at War with us. Personally, I’m sick of It All. Words cannot express the degree to which I am utterly sick of these alleged-people and I don’t care whatsoever, what methodology is used to eliminate their threat, once-and-forever.”

    It sounds like you believe that there is a one (all be it drastic) step to take and solve all of the problems that “we” have in North Korea. That IMO is a bit narrow thinking, things just work that way. Pzat has a bit more realistic interpretation of the situation, although it is a bit of a James Bond / Argo kind of a solution.

    As a general rule we are not going to decisively out of the blue attack another country without an overwhelming level of documentation and justification ala U.N. resolution. (unless you are advocating some level of false flag in order to deliver the justification?) The carrot and stick works, its simple and its payed attention to, but it must be driven home that if things are pushed too far their will be consequences up to and including massive military action. Real economic sanctions is a good and workable strategy, but everyone that can or does supply it must be on board.

  • Wayne

    Not much concerned with what the U.N. thinks, and never have been.
    – If “they” love NK or Iran so much, “they” can move the entire building to Pyongyang or Tehran, and vote on anything they want, to their hearts content.

    Like I said, IF a decision to annihilate them was made, I’m not much worried about the mechanical details. Mass destruction is mass-destruction, it’s nasty and vicious. They die, we continue.

    If you want to starve them all, I’m on board with that as well, but the Party Members will be the last to go. Better to just annihilate the Head and the body will Die.

    Nuke the entire site from orbit

  • Cotour

    And you say that you do not understand S.O.M. ?


    You sound like you could have written it, you understand it precisely, although you may call it something else. You are ready to extinguish / exterminate anyone who you subjectively believe to be an existential threat to you, your family and your country.

    S.O.M. : “CONCLUSION: The public lives and operates under a moral code perspective which they assume their leadership is constrained by. This is a subjective false perspective conclusion on the part of the public, in fact leaderships core fiduciary responsibility requires that leadership is or can be selectively or necessarily void of “morality”. ”

    Things like you propose do not happen in today’s “civilized” world as a general rule where there is not some level of agreed upon legal authority to do so. But there are always exceptions……..right?

  • wayne

    Numerous excellent historical RAND studies, available at:

  • wayne

    This 2016 study is enlightening:
    “The PLA and China’s rejuvenation”

  • wayne

    I do (sorta) dislike being “that guy,” and/but, I’m just not going to write a disseration backing up my viewpoints concerning my flippant internet “strike them now,” remarks.
    Is it the perfecty ideal action? Maybe not. Anyone who has bothered to read my stuff, would hopefully know I’m not as shallow as that might sound.

    I am however, absolutely convinced in my own mind, the time for moralizing & wringing my hands over rouge-nations, has long passed.
    Our enemies are already at war with us, we just don’t want to admit it to ourselves.
    And specifically– we don’t want to admit;
    1) We let it happen to ouselves & trusted our Leaders to protect us.
    2) We blew all our low-impact options away and fiddled endlessly while Rome burned to the ground.
    3) We attribute benevolent motives to people who have declared-intentions to kill us all & maintain a mental-fiction that they are rational-actors and not intent on killing us all.
    4) Huge amounts of material goods & massive numbers of people are going to die in the near & long-term future, in viscious, nasty, gruesome, circumstances.

    Changing thought-tracks….

    This recent lecture is extremely interesting.
    I don’t advocate nor dis-advocate his views, but they are very enlightening. (or rather, the process he undertakes.)

    “What Can European History Teach Us About Trump’s America?”
    Timothy Snyder

  • Cotour

    “I am however, absolutely convinced in my own mind, ”

    You certainly are.

  • wayne

    Har… “ab-so-lutely!”
    (…first we eat, then Civilization!)

    Rick and Morty:
    Season 1 ending clip

  • Edward

    wayne wrote: “Personally, I’m sick of doing stuff, the same-old-way-we-always-have, and expecting a different result.”

    Actually, we don’t do much the way we did up to and including WWII. We haven’t fought to win since WWII. This is why Korea was fought to a stalemate, why Vietnam was such a mess (we won the war, but we lost the peace), and why Iraq was also lost after the war was won.

    Even after WWII, we understood the concept of winning a war but losing the peace. It is a line in the 1948 movie “A Foreign Affair,” which takes place in post-war Berlin: “There’s a little unfinished business here, you know. Now that we’ve won the war, we mustn’t lose the peace!

    But we have stopped being so concerned about winning the peace. We stopped doing things the way that worked but expected the same results.

    The peace in Vietnam was lost because an incompetent Congress forced a withdrawal and the North was allowed to break the peace treaty when America left the South defenseless from an invasion of the North. The peace in Iraq was lost because our incompetent president withdrew and left her defenseless from ISIS attack – after the same incompetent president armed ISIS, which had formed from a reorganized Al Qaeda In Iraq. In fact, WWII started because Europe lost the peace when Hitler was allowed to rearm after WWI.

    LocalFluff wrote: “About what other governments would think of it. Well, it doesn’t concern them, it isn’t any of their business if the US nukes North Korea. Why do some people here think that they had a say about it? The only rational response for them would of course be to stay out of the way.”

    This is how the US can end up looking like a bully and colonialist – or becoming these. It is the government that does not care what anyone thinks that is able to act badly. North Korea acts badly toward its own people, because they don’t care that other governments think they are bad for starving their own people; in fact, they use that concern from other governments to get concessions from them (e.g. food for the people, which is then distributed to the leaders and the military).

    If this means that we have to wring our hands over rogue nations, then we have to do so. We need moral reasons to overturn even a tyranny, and this is what the Declaration of Independence was about.

    If we lose our morals, then how do we get them back? I think that was one of the things that was going through the mind of Morty in wayne’s linked video. If we can nuke a rogue nation, then can we avoid considering as rogue any nation that disagrees with us in some way?

    The Netherlands have recently taught us that morality is easily lost, as it convicts a policy maker for discussion policy in a different direction than the leadership desired; the valued free speech was lost in that country. How do we make sure that the US doesn’t behave toward the rest of the world the way the Netherlands has done toward its dissenting citizen?

    The answer is to continue to moralize. Our actions must remain moral, otherwise we end up being the tyrants that we despise, the tyrant that the Netherlands just became, the tyrant that the current US president is, and the tyrant that the US revolutionary war was fought over.

  • Garry

    LocalFluff, I think you’re misinterpreting my comment “there are plenty of options short of a nuclear strike”; perhaps I wasn’t clear. My comment is from the perspective of what the US can do about North Korea, but I think you took it as being from the perspective of what North Korea can do.

    Even so, it’s not much of an option for North Korea either; use of nukes is a threat that can carry a lot of power, but once they use a nuke, it’s all over for them.

    I think it’s wrong to say that Kim is completely irrational; rationality/irrationality is a spectrum (Wayne, correct me on this if needed), and despite what Hollywood portrays, very few people are completely irrational (or completely rational, for that matter). Many who are somewhat unstable notice the power of being perceived as irrational, and they exaggerate how irrational they are, so they can intimidate people.

    Don’t get me wrong; Kim definitely has some irrationality about him, but I find it very hard to believe that he thinks he can launch a nuke and come out ahead by doing so. I’m more worried about the irrationality of the shiite extremists than I am about Kim’s, but that’s a different topic.

    Edward, thank you for bringing some well-articulated sanity to this discussion.

    This discussion has brought out a great fallacy – “those people are so evil, they might start a nuclear attack. We have to stop them – by attacking them with nukes.”

    Or “those people are so crooked that they’re going to rig the election. That’s why we have to rig the election so they lose.”

    If we were to launch a pre-emptive strike, what’s the guarantee that someone else (Pakistan, Iran, if they’re more advanced than we thought) doesn’t drop a nuke or two our way? Or that Premier Kissoff hasn’t activated the Doomsday Machine that he was going to announce to the world next Monday?

    Ok, that last one was less than serious (it’s always a good thing to work in a reference from Dr. Strangelove), but the point is, a nuke strike, even if we announce it in advance, is going to give very confusing information to the world as it happens, and there’s no telling how different actors are going to react.

    My primary argument is the moral aspect, but in this case a first strike is flawed from the strategic aspect as well.

  • wayne

    Good stuff, all around.

    Dr Strangelove

  • Mitch S

    Let me turn to The Bible for a moment.
    When Amalek attacked the Israelites they were soundly defeated. Yet Amelek became enemy #1 to the Israelites, with God commanding that they be killed whenever found.
    Why? Because until Amalek attacked, the Israelites were considered invincible, protected by God, attacking them was unthinkable. But even though Amalek was beaten, they showed it was possible to attack the Israelites and opened the door to the thought that a better army might win.

    Since Nagasaki the policy has been to view use of nukes as unthinkable save in the case of ultimate deterrence – response to an existential nuke attack.

    We made it through decades of cold war facing an adversary that publicly threatened to bury us, without the use of nukes.

    Not to say there is never a situation where use of nukes is vital – but it must be clear it is a last resort.
    Once the door to the use of nukes is open, it can’t be completely closed.

    Re N. Korea, I still wonder where China fits in.
    Do they dislike the Kims but back NK because it’s a fellow commie state? Or are there more practical reasons for putting up with them?
    Clearly the Chinese like that the Kims keep millions of starving NK people from trying to get into China, but is Kim’s belligerence and even his nukes useful for China’s interests (and trust me “moral considerations” are not part of the mix)?
    Dealing with NK cannot be separated from dealing with China.
    Obviously if it gets to the point where NK is about to launch a nuke at us, we have to do whatever it takes to stop it but unless that is the situation, we cannot ignore the larger picture.

    BTW Edward, regarding Vietnam, it seems to me when it came to South Vietnam there was “no there there”.
    South Vietnam was doomed to fall without continued heavy US involvement.
    But to what end?
    Originally the thought was we needed to stop the spread of Communism. In that regard the fall of S. Vietnam looked like a failure, but through the lens of history it was just one battle in a war that we won.
    Sure, today all of Vietnam is now “Communist” but that is meaningless to our security or trade needs.
    Years ago I was sitting in Narita Airport and saw a Boeing 777 in “Vietnam Airlines” livery.
    So Vietnam is buying multi-million dollar airliners from the company that made the bombers that once dropped ordinance on it’s cities. And I bet plenty of people at Boeing wear Nike sneakers made in Vietnam.
    Who won/lost the Vietnam war? Would there have been a point is staying, loosing thousands more Americans and killing hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese?

  • Edward

    Mitch S wrote: “South Vietnam was doomed to fall without continued heavy US involvement.

    And so it did. But so would have Europe as the Soviet Union extended its reach, if we hadn’t continued our involvement there. And so would Japan, either by the Soviet Union revisiting the Russo-Japanese War or by China taking revenge.

    What has stopped North Korea from invading and taking over South Korea? It is the US involvement at the Demilitarized Zone. As LocalFluff and wayne pointed out, there is a lot of North Korean military, on that zone, just waiting for invasion orders.

    Mitch S wrote: “but through the lens of history it was just one battle in a war that we won.

    The main difference between socialism and communism is central control.

    If we won, why are we becoming more and more communist with each presidential administration? The US government controls more and more of our economy and our businesses. Already we have direct central control of the financial service sector, virtually all of education (with very, very few exceptions), most of the auto industry, and now all of the healthcare industry — right down to directing We the People as to how to spend our own money. No other tyranny in all of history has had the audacity to coerce its subjects into entering into contracts, desired or not; that isn’t what I would call liberty. It used to be that a coerced contract was null and void, but not anymore! We no longer have the freedom to choose to not enter into contracts, even overwhelmingly-expensive/low-service ones.

    Overregulation abounds throughout the rest of our economy, with directives as to how to run our companies coming from the central Washington government. That isn’t what I would call liberty.

    Furthermore, the only country that stopped being communist is the Soviet Union and its satellites. Putin is working toward re-communistifying that region, right down to reinvading the Crimea and the Ukraine. And our now “flexible” president does nothing to stop him.

    As we read and write this, Europe becomes more and more socialist and communist. Just the other day, the Netherlands consummated their ban on free speech, declaring anything they disagree with to be criminal “hate speech.” That isn’t what I would call liberty.

    If we won, why are there so many communist nations still around? China may have started to embrace free markets, but it is still a communist country. And why are we becoming friendlier with communist nations, such as Cuba?

    Even Europe is turning more and more communist. European central control is the main reason that Britain voted to “Brexit.”

    Would there have been a point is staying, loosing thousands more Americans and killing hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese?

    Apparently not, since the rest of the world is going the way of South Vietnam without us having stayed there.

    Would Vietnam seem more free market capitalists if they were flying Soviet-built Aeroflot-like airliners? (Aeroflot, still 51% government owned. Hardly a bastion of capitalism.) Communists engage in international trade, but it does not make them any less communist.

    Unless our victory in South Vietnam had seemed to the world to be a victory, then the resulting liberty would have been worth the losses, assuming the North would have reinvaded. If the North had been as frightened of invasion as the Soviets were, there would have hardly been any losses at all, as in the Korean Peninsula.

    Instead, the rest of the world thinks that North Vietnam whipped our hide real good! (30 seconds)

    Our hide. Not South Vietnam’s hide. Ours. We were the losers, and we were big losers. Maybe we can put a man on the Moon, but the Democrats made sure that the world thought us to be a paper tiger, to the point that they thought that attacking us with four airplanes would cause us to surrender to Sharia Law and Caliphate.

    What would have been the world’s reaction to communism if the free market capitalists had whipped the communists’ hide real good in Vietnam? Instead, the Democratic Congress (the Democrats were very friendly with the communists, back then — come to think of it, the head of the Democratic Party promised more flexibility toward the pro-communist Putin once he, Obama, got reelected in 2012).

    Where was I? That’s right: instead, the Democratic Congress lost the peace, in Vietnam, by abandoning our friends there and allowing the North to win the War Part II. Thus the world lost respect for the US’s willingness to protect them from the communist tyranny.

    We had been warned that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so we were vigilant in South Vietnam. Then the Democrats ended our vigilance in 1969, and we have slowly been taken over by Fabian Socialists ever since.

    Would there have been a point to staying in Vietnam?

    Liberty would have been the point. Liberty for ourselves, for the South Vietnamese, and for all the others in nations that would have given up communism, after seeing that it is a dismal failure. Except that it is not a failure for the “more equal” ruling class, the ones who live like kings while the others — the serfs — live like they are on an animal farm.

  • Mitch S.

    That,s what I like about this place .
    Interesting convos with people of different viewpoints.
    I do have some friends that are still “with her” but with one exception I restrict convo to the weather and swapping food opinions. I’d be happy to talk politics but I fear it would cause them permanent damage.

    Edward, pardon my brevity, errors and incoherence, I’m currently “enjoying” a viral gift someone passed along.
    (The old fashioned biological kind).

    Hmm, I did say “we needed to stop the spread of Communism” because that’s how it was presented but really we were trying to limit the power of the USSR and it’s allies.
    “Spreading Liberty” sounds good, but remember So Vietnam was totalitarian and so was So Korea for much of the time after the war till the late 1980’s (one wonders how Democratic it’s been recently while being ruled by Rasputin and daughter).

    BTW with Korea the N Korean forces collaped quickly after Inchon, the rest of the war was vs China (at the time fairly tight with the USSR – remember the Migs?).
    The NVA and VC were tough (they bloodied China in the 70’s)

    The “Liberty plan” echoed down the years and landed on GWB – do you really think a democracy was about to break out in Afghanistan or Iraq? (Were you advising Obama and Hillary about the “Arab Spring?)

    just a moment….energy dropping…I cn feel it…….toght me a song….would you like to hear it daavvve?…

  • wayne

    Mitch S–
    Take care of yourself!

    To summarize briefly;
    Some of us want the NK’s wiped out, today.
    Others desire a different path.

    -I want to know, why we refused to bomb Hanoi, during the Vietnam War?
    -All of N. K.’s original nuclear infra-structure, was given to them by the USSR.

    It is dangerous to remain here, you must leave within 2 days….
    “2010-Look Behind You”

  • Edward

    Mitch S.,
    You wrote: “but remember So Vietnam was totalitarian and so was So Korea for much of the time after the war till the late 1980’s (one wonders how Democratic it’s been recently while being ruled by Rasputin and daughter).”

    South Vietnam was totalitarian under the French. It was because the French asked the United States to help them out that the US entered into that war in the first place. (Once the French got out, they essentially said to the US, “Thanks for helping us out, have fun with the war, see you when it is all over.”)

    It was about the 1980s time-frame that India and China began to adopt free market capitalism as a better idea than central economic control.

    Would the soviet Union have been less bold about their failing system had their North Vietnamese friends been the losers? Perhaps they, and the Berlin Wall, would have fallen sooner. Perhaps more satellite countries than Poland would have escaped Soviet control sooner, had we been seen as the decisive winners in Vietnam.

    And why did South Korea get better in the 1980s? Was it, perhaps, liberty by American example? And could that good example been accelerated with a success in Vietnam as it was in Japan, Germany, and much of the rest of Western Europe post WWII?

    Or maybe you think not.

    Instead, you look at the real world, where the US fell under the communist influence of the Post 1960s Democratic Party and became more and more socialist as time went on, giving the world a false impression of what American values and American liberty once were, and reducing the value of being friends with the US.

    Indeed, would the US be so socialist that Obama would have been considered a rational candidate for president in 2008? I doubt it, but perhaps you do not.

    But your question was hypothetical, so I delivered a hypothetical answer. That you don’t like the answer is your problem, not mine. Perhaps next time you will be more satisfied by asking questions whose answers are less hypothetical.

    I know about the Korean War and why MacArthur thought that he could win it by chasing the North Korean army into China, and why Eisenhower knew a different strategy was called for.

    Stay warm, drink fluids (and eat), and get lots of rest. It may sound like a cliche, but it beats the alternative. I once lost seven pounds fighting a virus and thought of writing a book called “The Dehydration Diet.” You lose lots of weight, on that diet, especially after you are buried or while you are being cremated.

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