Defending homeland from North Korean threat must be top priority

  1. In open testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that North Korea currently has the ability to at least strike Alaska with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). While Selva noted that Pyongyang most likely cannot yet hit targets with accuracy and that its warheads may not be able to survive re-entry into the atmosphere, his testimony was yet one more public affirmation that Kim Jong Un has reached a milestone that changes the global nuclear balance.

    North Korea may not become a fully-capable nuclear weapons state for years. It may never field missiles with the accuracy of American weapons. Yet, that it has now become a strategic threat to the United States can no longer be ignored. For the past six decades, since the end of the Korean War, Pyongyang has been a danger to its neighbors and to the U.S. military personnel stationed on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia.

    It now threatens U.S. territory directly and will eventually gain the ability to target all of America’s major population centers. It does so, moreover, as it relentlessly pursues not just an atomic bomb, but a hydrogen bomb that can be fitted onto its missiles

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Asking China to ‘Fix’ North Korea Is a Waste of Time

American and South Korean officials have said for over a year that North Korea would be able, within a very short time, to miniaturize a nuclear device, mount it on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hit the continental United States. The country’s test launch Tuesday didn’t conclusively demonstrate that Pyongyang has reached this point, but Alaska and Hawaii might already be within range — and US forces in South Korea and Japan certainly are.

This isn’t the first time the North has marked the Fourth with fireworks. On July 4, 2006, a North Korean short-range missile barrage broke a seven-year moratorium, stemming from a 1998 Taepo-Dong missile launch that landed in the Pacific east of Japan. Tokyo responded angrily, leading Pyongyang to declare the moratorium (though it continued static-rocket testing), ironically gaining a propaganda victory.

In addition, the North substantially increased ballistic-missile cooperation with Iran, begun earlier in the decade, a logical choice since both countries were relying upon the same Soviet-era Scud missile technology, and because their missile objectives were the same: acquiring delivery capabilities for nuclear warheads.

This longstanding cooperation on delivery systems, almost certainly mirrored in comparable cooperation on nuclear weapons, is one reason North Korea threatens not only the United States and East Asia, but the entire world. In strategic terms, this threat is already here. Unfortunately, we should have realized its seriousness decades ago to prevent it from maturing.

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North Korean Nukes — The West’s Deterrent Is Insufficient

North Korea recently test-launched a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska.

When North Korea eventually builds a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, it will double down on its well-known shakedown of feigning indifference to American deterrence while promising to take out Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle unless massive aid is delivered to Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-un rightly assumes that wealthy Western nations would prefer to pay bribe money than suffer the loss of a city — and that they have plenty of cash for such concessions. He is right that the medicine of taking out Kim’s missiles is considered by Western strategists to be even worse than the disease of living with a lunatic regime that has nukes.

No wonder that the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations had few answers to North Korea’s serial lying and deceit about its nuclear intentions.

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Is the US headed for a showdown with North Korea?

“The growth in the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta made war inevitable.” This is the most famous line of Thucydides’s “History of the Peloponnesian War”. Will a future historian one day write that the growth in the power of China, and the alarm which this inspired in America, made war equally inevitable?

Since the election of Donald Trump, the probability of a Sino-American conflict has soared. Last year Trump ran an aggressively anti-Chinese election campaign, repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. Trade is only one of several bones of contention. The United States remains committed to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China’s island-building program is designed to make that sea Chinese in fact as well as name. Trump is less committed than any US president since Richard Nixon to the “One China” policy.

But the biggest flashpoint is without question North Korea — which brings me back to Thucydides and Graham Allison’s “Destined for War,” this summer’s must-read book in both Washington and Beijing.

Small powers can cause big trouble. The initial clash in the Peloponnesian War was in fact between Athens and Corinth; war came when the Corinthians appealed to the Spartans for help. Think of the role Serbia played in the First World War, or Cuba in the Cold War. Today’s catalyst for conflict is North Korea, which last week successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile — a weapon with the capacity to hit Alaska. Experts such as my Stanford colleague Sig Hecker believe the North Koreans are just five or so years away from being able to build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on the nose of such a missile.

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Which is Worse, Nuclear Annihilation or Donald Trump?

Tuesday, North Korea successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States. One day later, Pyongyang announced yet a further advance in its nuclear program, allowing its missiles to withstand the extreme heat and pressure upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. In response, the top American military commander in South Korea declared that the United States was prepared for war.

The nightmare that American policymakers feared 20 years ago—a nuclear-armed North Korea with ballistic missiles that can hit America, and obliterate our treaty allies in Asia—is now frighteningly real. Twenty years of American negotiators pursuing a combination of rational carrots and sticks has failed to change the behavior of a totalitarian hermit kingdom led by a family of brutal sociopaths.

What makes this nightmare scenario even scarier is that Donald Trump is both literally and figuratively the last man capable of stopping Kim Jong Un. The current American president is the sole decider on the planet who might be able to stop the slow-rolling nightmare of a gangster regime determined to end American hegemony in Asia, on the internet, and wherever else that the U.S. insists that the rule of law should be enforced. Yet President Trump is undisciplined and emotional and seems incapable of crafting any policy that can’t be summed up in less than 140 characters.

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Haley on North Korea: We’ll use military forces if we must

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that the U.S. is prepared to defend itself from the North Korean threat.

Her comments came as the UN Security Council met to debate the crisis with North Korea, in the wake of North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies,” Haley said, in comments quoted by CBS News.

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” she stressed.

Haley called the missile test a “destabilizing escalation,” and said North Korea’s actions are “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution.”

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North Korea Missile Test: 5 Questions You Were Afraid to Ask

North Korea worsened global tensions and further solidified its threats against the U.S. this week when it tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

After launching the missile, which is capable of reaching American territory, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said his nation’s nuclear weapons program will never be up for negotiations. He also warned that North Korea would “demonstrate its mettle to the U.S.”

If you haven’t been following the crisis closely, you might have some basic questions about it you’re afraid to ask. Here are some answers:

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