Every other week these days, North Korea manages to grab the global headlines with its latest nuclear or ballistic missile tests. This past week, South Korea stole some of their thunder by announcing that they will upgrade their conventional missile and bomb capability as a self-defensive measure against the north’s aggressive overtures. China responded by declaring it is preparing for a crisis along its border with North Korea. North Korea retaliated by doing what they do best— successfully testing another long-range ICBM Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
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South Korea Finally Feels the Heat of the North Korean Nuclear Drive
South Korea, the most threatened nation by the North’s nuclear ambitions, usually keeps calm and carries on in response to the barrage of constant aggressive overtures from its northern neighbor. Yet this past week, they had apparently had enough. The Seoul government announced that it is looking to boost its conventional ballistic missile armaments to include powerful one ton conventional missile warheads. As aggressive a move at it seems, even this threatening-sounding hardware will be less than what North Korea has already displayed in its own considerable missile arsenal.
National security experts estimate that North Korea boasts approximately 1,000 different ballistic missiles. Some of this considerable firepower would inevitably reach Seoul and other South Korean military and civilian targets in the event of a conflict, despite the placement of several U.S. THADD missile defense batteries. This would especially be true if the North chose to fire off huge rocket salvos at its arch-rival to the south. Despite this sobering reality on the ground, South Korea views the prospective larger missile payloads as an essential element in keeping up with the growing threats from Pyongyang, according to the Yonhap news agency of South Korea.
As of the 2012 agreement reached between South Korea and the United States, the missiles have been restricted to 800 kilometer (500 mile) ranges with half ton payloads. The larger warhead would allow the South to threaten nuclear-armed Pyongyang with a greater amount of retaliatory power even as North Korea rapidly outflanks the south by armaments. Joel Wit, the co-founder of Washington D.C.-based 38 North think thank, opined:
“That could double the amount of conventional explosives on top, which would allow them (South Korea) to destroy some targets that they currently can’t destroy. This includes destroying hardened targets like command posts and bunkers.”
This is all occurring against a backdrop of North Korea’s aggressive drive to miniaturize its nuclear warheads so that they can mount them atop an ICBM missile which can reach the mainland of the United States. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, warned:
“They’re clearly on a path to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States and to match that with a nuclear weapon.”
North Koreans Test Launch Yet Another Dangerous Ballistic Missile Over the Weekend
At 10:45 am EST on Friday, North Korea brought out yet another threatening long-range ICBM test in the latest show off of technological progress and saber rattling from Pyongyang. This represented their second such test only this month. President Donald Trump of the U.S. condemned this latest provocative act with his Twitter tirades:
“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people. The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”
The missile traveled for approximately 1,000 kilometers then splashed down off the coast of Japan. Unfortunately, the American President does not have many real viable or attractive options that do not involve blowing up the entire Korean peninsula (along with Seoul) in a ruinous war.
The real danger lies in the demonstration of technological prowess that North Korea managed to put on display before the world with this second launch of July. The Joint Chiefs of Staff for South Korean military announced that they estimate this ICBM is a more advanced version than the one they launched in June. This assessment was based on how far it traveled. Their statement to CNN declared that:
“The altitude is about 3,700 km and the flying distance is about 1,000 km. It is estimated that it was a more advanced type of an ICBM compared to the previous one based on the range.”
Most worrisome is the latest assessment this past Wednesday from the United States on the progress of the North Korean’s weapons program. The U.S. military now believes that Pyongyang will be capable of launching a dependable nuclear missile-carrying ICBM by early 2018. This represents a two year time table acceleration from the last weapons’ assessment that argued the West had from three to five years to stop them.
As Director of Defense Studies Harry Kazianis from the Center for the National Interest warned about North Korea:
“In all honesty, we should not be surprised anymore: North Korea is slowly morphing into a nuclear and missile power right before our very eyes. North Korea will continue to test over and over again its missile technology and nuclear weapons in the months and years to come in order to develop the most lethal systems it can. You can bet every time they do tensions will continue to rise. This is what makes the situation on the Korean Peninsula as dangerous as it is.”
He is not exaggerating their level of progress by any means. In 2017 so far, the North has pulled off 12 missile tests since only February and also engaged in its very first ICBM launch back on July 4th that it claimed may reach “anywhere in the world.”
Even China is Making Preparations for War in the Peninsula Now
When the Chinese start ramping up preparations for a conflict in the Korean Peninsula, you know it is serious. In the last weeks, China has boosted its military defenses on the North Korean border even as President Donald Trump contemplates military retaliation to the provocations of the hostile North. The Journal reports that the communists have increased their combat-ready big data disaster recovery center and border region surveillance. Meanwhile their military has engaged in drills and transferred in military units from other parts of the Middle Kingdom.
Not coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal assesses that such measures from China are in fact parallel to the comments made by the American President regarding military action to halt the North’s nuclear and ICBM technological ambitions.
Even U.S. Officials Admit Another Korean War Would Be A Disaster
Perhaps what is most startling about the escalating crisis is the fact that even the senior American military officials have begun to concede that a renewed conflict in the Peninsula would be an unmitigated disaster for the Korean people and nations themselves. Hawkish Defense Secretary and long time General “Mad Dog” Mattis told Congress in June that the United States is “exhausting all possible diplomatic efforts” to try to circumvent what will otherwise prove to be a “catastrophic war.”
Secretary General Mattis is not playing down the chances of an ultimate U.S.-led victory at all. He is merely saying that this would represent “a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953.” Now is not the time to wonder how to invest in Gold in your IRA or why you should own gold in times of financial crisis any longer. You can not afford to wait to safeguard and protect your retirement assets.