North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

  • China continues to transfer, through its own territory, nuclear weapons technology involving both North Korea and Iran.
  • In April, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submerged platform. The North Korean underwater launch test was closely related to the further development of a missile-firing submarine capable of hitting the U.S. — “a first step,” according to Uzi Rubin, “in achieving a very serious and dangerous new military capability… it will take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”
  • Although the Chinese profess to be against nuclear proliferation, documented evidence illustrates just the opposite — as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence.
  • Unfortunately, no matter how attractive a strategy of diplomatically ending North Korea’s nuclear program might look, it is painfully at odds with China’s established record of supporting nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya.
  • China’s nuclear assistance to Pakistan did not stay just in Pakistan.

North Korea appears to have made significant progress in extending its capability as a nuclear-armed rogue nation, to where its missiles may become capable of hitting American cities with little or no warning.

What new evidence makes such a threat compelling?

North Korea claims to have nuclear warheads small enough to fit on their ballistic missiles and missiles capable of being launched from a submerged platform such as a submarine.

Shortly after North Korea’s April 22, 2015 missile test, which heightened international concern about the military capabilities of North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China and our regional allies to restart the 2003 “six-party talks” aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula and reining in North Korea’s expanding nuclear missile program.

There are some “experts,” however, who believe that North Korea’s threat is highly exaggerated and poses no immediate danger to the United States. Consequently, many believe that, given China’s oft-repeated support for a “nuclear weapons free” Korean peninsula, time is on America’s side to get an agreement that will guarantee just such a full de-nuclearization.

But, if North Korea’s technical advances are substantive, its missiles, armed with small nuclear weapons, might soon be able to reach the continental United States — not just Hawaii and Alaska. Further, if such missile threats were to come from submarines near the U.S., North Korea would be able to launch a surprise nuclear-armed missile attack on an American city. In this view, time is not on the side of the U.S. Submarine-launched missiles come without a “return address” to indicate what country or terrorist organization fired the missile.

The Wall Street Journal, on May 21, 2015, echoed this view, noting: “[F]or evidence of North Korea’s bending of reality to drum up fears about its military prowess,” one need look no further than a consensus that North Korea “doctored” pictures of an alleged missile test from a submarine. This, they claimed, was proof that the “technology developments” by North Korea were nothing more than elaborately faked fairy tales.

However, Israeli missile defense expert Uzi Rubin — widely known as the “father” of Israel’s successful Arrow missile defense program — explained to this author that previous North Korean missile developments, which have often been dismissed as nothing more than mocked-up missiles made of plywood, actually turned out to be the real thing — findings confirmed by subsequent intelligence assessments.

Rubin, as well as the South Korean Defense Ministry, insist that on April 22, the North Korean military did, in fact, launch a missile from a submerged platform.[3]

What gave the “faked” test story some prominence were the misunderstood remarks of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld. He had said, on May 19, that the North Korean missile launch was “not all” that North Korea said it was. He also mentioned that North Korea used clever video editors to “crop” the missile test-launch images. Apparently, that was exactly what the editors did. The Admiral, however, never claimed in his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies there had been no successful missile test.[4]

Admiral Winnefeld and Secretary Rose, in their remarks, confirmed that the North Korean test was not the “dog and pony show” some have claimed. In other words, the U.S. government has officially confirmed that the North Koreans have made a serious step toward producing a sea-launched ballistic missile capability.

While such an operational capability may be “years away,” Rubin warns that “even many years eventually pass, and it will also take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”[8]

In summary, it is obvious North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are a serious threat to America and its allies. And China, from its proliferation record for the past three decades, is making such a threat more widespread.

In this light, is dismissing North Korea’s advances in military technology and ignoring China’s record of advancing its neighbors’ nuclear weapons technology really best for U.S. interests?

Full article: North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat (The Gatestone Institute)

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