Tuesday, May 30, 2017

North Korea's Nuclear Deterrent is Here to Stay

David Sanger and William Broad published a piece yesterday, "North Korean Tests Add Urgency for U.S. to Fix Defense Flaws," that read like a long lament. Given the recent success North Korea has had with solid-fuel rockets, the country's nuclear deterrent now has to be accepted. As Choe Sang-hun reports today, "North Korea Claims Technological Progress in Latest Missile Launch":
So far this year, North Korea has conducted nine ballistic missile tests, some of which analysts later said demonstrated new technologies. Its midrange Pukguksong-2 used solid fuel, eliminating the need for a lengthy fueling process, which means it can be rolled out from a concealed location and launched quickly. The intermediate-range Hwasong-12, which the North tested on May 14, had a longer range than any missile it had launched before.
Sunday's test was conducted from a mobile launcher. According to this morning's SitRep:
This week in North Korean launches. North Korean missile launches are becoming a weekly occurrence and this week's launch consists of what North Korea claims is a new, more accurate missile. The North fired the missile from a mobile tracked vehicle in Wonsan, on the country's eastern coast, raising the prospect that the missile in Sunday's launch may be the same one shown off in an April military parade in Pyongyang. South Korea's military identified the missile, which landed in waters within Japan's exclusive economic zone, as a Scud variant.
The missile defense system that the U.S. Air Force is testing this morning has proven successful in the past only because the launch location, the Marshall Islands, is known ahead of time. North Korea's technical prowess with mobile solid-fuel rocket launches renders the U.S. system obsolete.

Writing in "Behind the US war drive against North Korea," Peter Symonds summarizes the U.S. response to the news:
The test firing by North Korea of a short-range missile on Monday, the latest in a series of similar missile trials, has provoked another round of condemnations and warnings by Washington and its allies, amid a continuing US military build-up near the Korean Peninsula. The US Navy announced last week that it was deploying the USS Nimitz and its battle group to the region, bringing to three the number of aircraft carriers able to direct their massive fire power against North Korea.
President Trump responded to the missile test by tweeting that North Korea had shown “great disrespect” towards its neighbour China, which was “trying hard” to compel Pyongyang to bow to US demands to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. Washington has placed immense pressure on Beijing, above all through the threat of a war on its doorstep, to use its economic muscle to rein in the Pyongyang regime.
Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, US Defence Secretary James Mattis made clear that China had limited time. He condemned North Korea as “a direct threat to the United States,” adding: “We don’t have to wait until they have an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear war head on it.” Mattis warned that any war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and involve “probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
The US war drive against North Korea has been accompanied by an incessant campaign in the media vilifying the Pyongyang regime and the alleged threat posed by its tiny nuclear arsenal. Mattis has already indicated that any attempt by North Korea to use a nuclear weapon would be met with an “effective and overwhelming” response—that is, annihilation, using America’s huge nuclear armoury.
To understand why North Korea is not going to buckle under threat read Bruce Cumings' "A Murderous History of Korea" in the last issue of London Review of Books. The U.S. has annihilated the country once before but failed to conquer it. The entire organizing principle of North Korea is the memory of that annihilation.

There is no possibility of rolling back North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program. Do Trump and his generals realize this? They must. So the question becomes how much bellicose posturing must the U.S. engage in to maintain the illusion of "full-spectrum dominance"? And once the posturing begins can the U.S. be sure that events won't escalate out of control?

No comments:

Post a Comment