Striking North Korea with conventional weapons is no easy task. A large amount of their military hardware is from WWII or the Korean War, old, but reliable. They possess unknown amounts of SCUD missiles and similarly-upgraded, or modified ex-Soviet and Chinese designs. The IRBM’s they have been threatening to fire at or near Guam—possibly in the next week as they have threatened—appear to be based upon either older Soviet Submarine-Launched IRBM’s or perhaps a joint-venture with Iran’s nuclear forces.
Iran was suspected of holding approximately 19 of these or their predecessor missiles, the Hwasong-10 in a leaked Diplomatic Cable that the New York Times printed…
“Russia said that during its presentations in Moscow and its comments thus far during the current talks, the U.S. has discussed the BM-25 as an existing system. Russia questioned the basis for this assumption and asked for any facts the U.S. had to provide its existence such as launches, photos, etc. For Russia, the BM-25 is a mysterious missile. North Korea has not conducted any tests of this missile, but the U.S. has said that North Korea transferred 19 of these missiles to Iran. It is hard for Russia to follow the logic trail on this. Since Russia has not seen any evidence of this missile being developed or tested, it is hard for Russia to imagine that Iran would buy an untested system. Russia does not understand how a deal would be made for an untested missile. References to the missile's existence are more in the domain of political literature than technical fact. In short, for Russia, there is a question about the existence of this system.”
The city of Seoul, home to almost half of South Korea’s population is extremely close to North Korea, and in range of many devastating weapons. Almost 25,000,000 people could be attacked within seconds of Kim Jong-Un’s orders, and that is just assuming the DPRK regime are only using their artillery pieces; there are concerns that North Korea may have a massive chemical-weapon arsenal, or somewhat worse, biological weapons and dirty bombs.
The first casualties—if war breaks out again on the Korean Peninsula—will be the entire city of Seoul.
Mitigating this threat is nearly impossible without using extreme force upon the entirety of North Korea, and the sort of force required to literally flatten North Korea’s armed forces might cause chain reactions or fallout in Japan, China and Russia or further. We are not certain about just how many Nuclear Reactors or chemical-weapons stashes exist in the hermit kingdom.
If any Nuclear Reactors are destroyed or partly-destroyed, we will have multiple “Fukushima” situations to deal with, and during a time of war, this will not be very easy. Japan has struggled enough with the radiation leaks from the Fukushima meltdown, adding 5-10 more in that same area would not be ideal.
We are not certain of North Korea’s capabilities, their intelligence services and reach of influence outside of their own borders. Their intelligence services were able to carry out an assassination in Malaysia last year, they have a lot of ties and allies in Iran and possibly Russia and China too. If they have infiltrated Japan or South Korea, we have no idea to what degree.
Could they have executed the horrific concept that the “post 9/11” world has thought about? The idea of one or more shipping containers, that might be in any port, in any city or perhaps even on the open sea, with a dirty bomb or nuclear device inside. Perhaps kept offline by a “dead mans switch” or “canary system”, where the devices are pinged every so often from Pyongyang until the signal stops, the devices detonate… The potentials are horrendous and quite frightening to even consider. This was one of the reasons given to justify the invasion of Iraq, many years ago… Plenty of time for someone to execute this concept.
The US army has been fighting against many terrorist organisations in the last 15 years, and has gained quite a lot of experience in asymmetric warfare…
Drones have ‘closed the gap’ between MOAB’s and Snipers, though when an adversary has a loyal population, large stretches of land and sea, mountains full of secret tunnels and all sorts of hybrid or non conventional/mobile launching systems for all sorts of weapons, this presents a lot of problems for any military to solve before sending in troops or manned vehicles of any kind.
Kim Jong-Un has the advantage here, having fought his own psychological war for years against Trump’s predecessors, other threats to his power from internal enemies and the global stage. Kim Jong-Un is a notorious, brutal dictator. He recently assassinated his own half-brother, on foreign soil; using a proscribed chemical weapon. Previously misusing Anti-Aircraft weapons to execute a “disloyal” uncle, he has no qualms about using brutal force upon his own family, or anyone that challenges his grip on power.
Donald J. Trump has never truly fought anyone outside the courtroom, or on reality TV. He likes to ‘talk tough’ but rarely actually takes action; he is infamous for using the line “you’re fired” though in real life situations, he tries to bully or force people to resign and rarely will carry out the work himself…
Trump broadcasts nearly every thought, and especially loves to share extreme reactions to almost any stimulus on Twitter.
Kim Jong-Un does not use social media, but you can be sure that his advisers will be keeping a close eye on Donald Trump’s latest obsessions and twitter-wars with his own Attorney General, random celebrities or his greatest-hits collection; Benghazi, Emails, the concept of The Clintons and other lighter topics that do not threaten the safety of millions or even billions of people across the world.
The worst potential outcome, for the world at large or the continuance of the human race…
Once “the missiles start flying” there is very little time for nuclear-armed nations to decide what to do. All-out nuclear war used to be kept in check by Mutually Assured Destruction, the concept that if one nation decides to strike first, the retaliatory strike would be so devastating that it is inconceivable to launch that initial first missile… As more countries became nuclear-armed, some of them with more ‘suicidal’ ambitions this so-called stability has eroded, and the infamous Doomsday Clock has moved even closer to Midnight; the worst it has been for over 60 years.
Both of the Dear Leaders can choose to initiate a nuclear strike, with one already promising one in the next few weeks—the other using hyperbolic language which strongly hints at an apocalyptic-scale conflagration—unless the Donald had just witnessed a certain Song of Ice and Fire on HBO. Telling US News that his “fire and fury” remarks were not extreme enough, and that…
“If anything, maybe it wasn't tough enough," Trump said of his remarks on Tuesday that Pyongyang's threats against the U.S. "will be met with fire and fury and, frankly, power.”” — Donald Trump to Gabrielle Levy of US News.
Missile Defence has not kept up with the sheer numbers of missiles and Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle-capable ICBM’s.
Systems such as THAAD can assist, though if all or many of the nuclear arsenals are released there is no way to intercept all the warheads. The prospect of nuclear-tipped cruise missiles has become reality, too—thanks to Vladimir Putin and the Russian Armed Forces not obeying treaties they had signed. Smaller, “tactical” nuclear warheads could be used to decimate large groups of soldiers, ships or other large targets.
(North Korea) “should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.” — Secretary of Defence, James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis
Is there anything we can do?
Worrying about nuclear annihilation is not productive.
The likelihood of worldwide, nuclear armageddon is closer than ever before; it is still not a certainty though. This insane language is normal for rogue nations such as North Korea, not so much from the leader of the United States, again though for this particular man it is not so strange… The real danger is if people take them at their word, and if Donald Trump keeps overreacting every time Kim Jong-Un says jump, the Dear-Leader will probably keep poking at him.
Kim Jong-Un is not suicidal, as far as we know—if he does fire the promised four IRBM’s at or near Guam, an interception in the air, or on the launchers is the best possible action that can happen. Anything stronger or “like the world has never witnessed” to quote an unqualified, malicious madman with his finger on the nuclear button is just going to backfire or spiral out of control.
If you have read or watched any interviews with citizens of Guam, they are all quite calm…
We should take a page from their book, worrying won’t get us anywhere except stressed.
On the other hand, Donald Trump must be reined in; his ridiculous language is not acceptable for a man of his age, and especially not for a world-leader. His NSC, U.N. Ambassador and many others in the chain of command must have been horrified when he “riffed” casually about what certainly sounds like nuclear annihilation. Somebody, anybody please take him away from the cameras, live streaming and especially away from Twitter…
If the world is destroyed because of a tweet, I’m going to be having a serious discussion with Jack Dorsey in the Leftovers universe or wherever we end up after the earth gets nuked.