The oncall pager owns me.
Sometimes, little dogs don’t realize that they are, in the scheme of things, nothing more than ankle-biters. Sometimes, these dogs think they are ready to square off with bigger dogs. Sometimes, these little yappers press their luck and, if lucky, survive to learn a harsh lesson.
Enter North Korea, stage left.
North Korea has enough nuclear weapons to defend itself against an attack by the United States and is building more, according to a member of the regime interviewed on American television.
The country’s vice-foreign minister, Kim Gye Gwan, also hinted that it had the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.
“We have enough nuclear bombs to defend against a US attack,” he said in the interview with ABC. “As for specifically how many we have, that is a secret.”
When asked about delivery systems, he added: “Our scientists have the knowledge, comparable to other scientists around the world.”
North Korea is not in danger of an unexpected ground attack from the United States. The fact that we’ve established only a trip-wire defensive stance on the Korean Peninsula has been well known for half a century. The silliness of the statement by communist North Korea is that any attack from the U.S., unprovoked by actual action on the ground, would be delivered by air. The North Korean nukes are worthless against this except as a retaliation. That does not fit into the idea of being a sufficient defense, as it is woefully undemonstrated and falls obviously short of the mutually-assured destruction threshold that is implied.
The interview, given after the American network was granted a rare visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, is the most detailed public discussion yet by the regime of its capabilities. It will embarrass the Chinese government, which has been trying to convince North Korea, its close ally, to abandon its nuclear weapons programme and stop promoting a Far Eastern arms race.
China only values North Korea as a geographic buffer between the politically and economically successful South Korea. Red China is currently geographically insulated from any sizable and successful neighbor that it doesn’t control, though it does obviously chafe at the island state of Taiwan. China does not want North Korea to push its bluff too far and fail.
North Korea has been building plutonium-based bombs since expelling inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency more than two years ago, and the Pentagon estimates it has material for at least six.
The United States also believes it has one or two bombs based on enriched uranium, manufactured with the help of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, whose alleged existence triggered the current crisis over its weapons programme.
What intelligence has been unable to determine is whether North Korea has the ability to deliver the bombs. It is currently developing a version of the long-range Taepodong missile that it hopes will bring the west coast of the United States within range.
North Korea has wrapped too much of its economy around its military and its nuclear program — it must expand or eventually collapse upon itself. Any conventional victory must be fast and decisive, something it probably cannot attain. However, any nuclear exchange would most likely be one-sided, as the U.S. cannot endanger allies in South Korea and Japan with fallout. Barring actual and truly threatening provocation from the North, the ball is in the commies’ court in terms of initiating conflict. I have little doubt that we can buy enough time on the ground to flatten what remains of the North with conventional means before the South could be completely overrun. That leaves the North’s nukes — used on the peninsula, devastating to the region but useless in the long term of a potential war. Launched overseas, again useless in the long term for North Korea’s hopes for anything other than spiteful destruction.
That said, now would be a good time to strengthen our efforts into a missile defense and, on a personal note, shy away from investment in West Coast real estate.