Tag Archives: Nuclear Weapons

Three Dangerous Delusions about Korea, by James George Jatras

Given North Korea’s nuclear weapons, any delusions about that country are almost by definition dangerous. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:

They say that most of the world’s real dangers arise not because of what people don’t know but because of what they do «know» that just ain’t so.

As a case in point, consider three things about Korea that the bipartisan Washington establishment seems quite sure of but are far removed from reality:

Delusion 1: All options, including U.S. military force, are «on the table.»

– Everyone knows there are no military «options» the U.S. could use against North Korea that don’t result in disaster. The prospect that a «surgical strike» could «take out» (a muscular-sounding term much loved by laptop bombardiers) Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities is a fiction. Already impractical when considered against a country like Iran, no one believes a limited attack could eliminate North Korea’s ability to strike back, hard. At risk would be not only almost 30,000 U.S. troops in Korea but 25 million people in the Seoul metropolitan area, not to mention many more lives at risk in the rest of South Korea and perhaps Japan.

Hence, any contemplated U.S. preemptive strike would have to be massive from the start, imposing a ghastly cost on North Koreans (do their lives count?) but still running the risk that anything less than total success would mean a devastating retaliation. That’s not even taking into account possible actions of other countries, notably China’s response to an American attack on their detestable buffer state.

Delusion 2: North Korea must be denuclearized.

– Whether anyone likes it or not, North Korea is a nuclear weapons state outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will remain so. Kim Jong-un learned the lessons of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. Because Kim has weapons of mass destruction, especially nukes, he gets to stay alive and in power. If he gives them up, he can look forward to dancing the Tyburn jig or getting sodomized with a bayonet, then shot. That’s not a difficult choice.

To continue reading: Three Dangerous Delusions about Korea

 

Advertisements

North Korea: fire, fury and fear, by Pepe Escobar

The problem with a completely discredited intelligence community is that we have no idea of what we can and cannot believe from them. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Beware the dogs of war. The same intel “folks” who brought to you babies pulled from incubators by “evil” Iraqis as well as non-existent WMDs are now peddling the notion that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead able to fit its recently tested ICBM.

That’s the core of an analysis completed in July by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Additionally, US intel believes that Pyongyang now has access to up to 60 nuclear weapons. On the ground US intel on North Korea is virtually non-existent – so these assessments amount to guesswork at best.

But when we couple the guesswork with an annual 500-page white paper released earlier this week by the Japanese Defense Ministry, alarm bells do start ringing.

The white paper stresses Pyongyang’s “significant headway” in the nuclear race and its “possible” (italics mine) ability to develop miniaturized nuclear warheads able to fit on the tips of its missiles.

This “possible” ability is drowned in outright speculation. As the report states, “It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear bombs into warheads and has acquired nuclear warheads.”

Western corporate media would hardly refrain from metastasizing pure speculation into a “North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons” frenzy consuming the cable news cycle/ newspaper headlines. Talk about hearts and minds comfortably numbed by the fear factor.

The Japanese white paper, conveniently, also escalated condemnation of China over Beijing’s actions in both the East and South China seas.

To continue reading: North Korea: fire, fury and fear

Retired Green Beret Warns: “North Korea Can Deliver An EMP Weapon Dead Center Over America”, by Jeremiah Johnson

This is one of the more frightful scenarios concerning North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. From Jeremiah Johnson at shtfplan.com:

Most are aware by now that North Korea has tested (successfully) another ICBM missile, and its nuclear ambitions are more concrete by the day.  The mainstream media and the Obama administration are the creators of the public’s skepticism and denial regarding North Korea’s capabilities.  The Obama administration consistently and deliberately downplayed the true strengths and capabilities of North Korea over an eight-year period.  Such a downplay was further enabled by key press conferences in which members of the U.S. military’s command structure (specifically those serving in the Pentagon) were made to parrot the administration’s denial.

By “pulling Pentagon officials out” and having them categorically deny North Korea’s capabilities, it set the tempo to create a false narrative that Obama and his minions would champion throughout the eight years.  Pentagon officials (Admirals and Four-star Generals) were periodically “rotated” into these press pools to downplay the abilities of North Korea to launch a nuclear missile against the United States.

This obfuscation, orchestrated by Obama and parroted by those general officers who were about to retire in a couple of years was a precise and deliberate weakening of the United States’ defensive stance against a nation that declared its intentions to strike her.

All the experts on the subject were marginalized and labeled either as “crackpots,” or just scoffed at with their opinions relegated to page A-14, just above a coupon for “Captain Crunch” and at the bottom of the page of the newspaper.  The public bought it.  They swallowed the pill offered by the government-media complex, and in their own narcissistic hubris, discounted the efforts of a “backwards” country such as North Korea to send a nuke to the U.S.

Not anymore.

Now the media is grudgingly, painfully admitting what cannot be hidden: North Korea has more than enough capability to hit the United States.  All of it.  The North Korean ICBM test on Friday, July 29 proves they can strike the U.S. anywhere.  Here you go:

“Looks like it pretty much can get to New York, Boston, and probably falls just short of Washington [DC].  If those numbers are correct, the missile flown on a standard trajectory, the missile would have a range of 10,400 km (6,500 miles), not taking into account the Earth’s rotation.  However, the rotation of the Earth increases the range of missiles fired eastward, depending on their direction.  It is important to keep in mind that we do not know the mass of the payload the missile carried on this test.”

David Wright, Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists to CNBC

Keep this sentence in mind from the excerpt: “However, the rotation of the Earth increases the range of missiles fired eastward, depending on their direction.”

To continue reading: Retired Green Beret Warns: “North Korea Can Deliver An EMP Weapon Dead Center Over America”

The Latest: US Official Admits North Korean Missiles Aren’t Threat to America, by James Holbrooks

“North Korea does not have the ability to strike the United States with ‘any degree of accuracy’ and while its missiles have the range, they lack the necessary guidance capability, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.”

Not to mention that North Korea would be vaporized if it every fired a nuclear missile at the US. From James Holbrooks at theantimedia.org:

Geopolitical moves are being made on the issue of North Korea. A day after South Korea’s new government offered to hold military talks with its neighbor to the North, the United States’ second-highest ranking military official admitted Tuesday that North Korean missiles lack the accuracy to effectively target U.S. cities.

On Monday, South Korea’s defense ministry proposed that representatives from both the South and North Korean militaries meet at the border village of Panmunjom in North Korea for talks.

“We make the proposal for a meeting…aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border,” South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The man in charge of North Korean affairs, unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said his country “would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North” and suggested a positive response from Kim Jong-un’s government would represent a show of good faith.

“North Korea should respond to our sincere proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Cho said, adding that if “North Korea chooses the right path, we would like to open the door for a brighter future for North Korea, together, by cooperating with the international community.

Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare, by the Saker

Here’s is an entirely different, and better informed, perspective than the one yesterday from Paul Craig Roberts on the chances of great power nuclear war. From the Saker at unz.com:

For weeks now I have been getting panicked emails with readers asking me whether the USA had developed a special technology called “super fuses” which would make it possible for the USA to successfully pull-off a (preemptive) disarming first strike against Russia. Super-fuses were also mentioned in combination with an alleged lack by Russia of a functioning space-based infrared early warning system giving the Russians less time to react to a possible US nuclear attack.

While there is a factual basis to all this, the original report already mislead the reader with a shocking title “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze” and by offering several unsubstantiated conclusions. Furthermore, this original report was further discussed by many observers who simply lack the expertise to understand what the facts mentioned in the report really mean. Then the various sources started quoting each other and eventually this resulted in a completely baseless “super fuse scare”. Let’s try to make some sense of all this.

Understanding nuclear strikes and their targets

To understand what really has taken place I need to first define a couple of crucial terms:

  • Hard-target kill capability: this refers to the capability of a missile to destroy a strongly protected target such as a underground missile silo or a deeply buried command post.
  • Soft-target kill capability: the capability to destroy lightly or unprotected targets.
  • Counterforce strike: this refers to a strike aimed at the enemy’s military capabilities.
  • Countervalue strike: this refers to a strike on non-military assets such as cities.

Since strategic nuclear missile silos and command posts are well protected and deeply buried, only hard-target kill (HTK) capable missiles can execute a counterforce strike. Soft-target kill (STK) capable systems are therefore usually seen as being the ultimate retaliatory capability to hit the enemies cities. The crucial notion here is that HTK capability is not a function of explosive power, but of accuracy. Yes, in theory, a hugely powerful weapon can compensate to some degree for a lack of accuracy, but in reality both the USA and the USSR/Russia have long understood that the real key to HTK is accuracy.

To continue reading: Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare

US Says ‘Yes’ to Nuke Tests, ‘No’ to a Nuke Ban Treaty

The US government has not, and probably never will, abjured the first use of nuclear weapons. From John LaForge at antiwar.com:

Twice in seven days the United States shot nuclear-capable long-range missiles toward the Marshall Islands, but the same government refused in March to join negotiations for a new treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Tests conducted April 26 and May 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base launched modernized Minuteman-3 ballistic missiles, and the US Air Force said in a statement that such tests ensure “the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of US national security…”

In late March, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley explained why the US would boycott the “treaty ban” negotiations that began March 27 at the UN in New York City. Haley said about nuclear weapons, “[W]e can’t honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them, and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.” North Korean president Kim Jong-un could have said the same thing about his seven nuclear warheads, especially in view of US bombs and missiles currently falling on seven countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya – and engagement in massive war games off the Korean peninsula.

Ambassador Haley managed to avoid being two-faced on one level. Joining the ban treaty talks would have been openly hypocritical while her colleagues in the war department were preparing both new nuclear weapons production and a series of test launches. Another April test, at the Tonopah bombing range in Nevada, dropped a so-called “B61-12” the newest US H-bomb now in development and scheduled to go into production after 2022.

Jackie Cabasso, of the Western States Legal Foundation, explained April 20, “In 1997… President Bill Clinton signed Presidential Directive-60, reaffirming the threatened first use of nuclear weapons as the ‘cornerstone’ of US national security.… President Obama left office with the US poised to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads…. Over the past couple of years, the US has conducted a series of drop tests of the newly modified B61-12 gravity bomb…. Each new bomb will cost more than twice its weight in solid gold.” Of the 480 B61s slated to become B61-12s, about 180 are scheduled to be placed at six NATO bases in Europe.

US military: “We are prepared to use nuclear weapons”

To continue reading: US Says ‘Yes’ to Nuke Tests, ‘No’ to a Nuke Ban Treaty

These Nuclear Breakthroughs Are Endangering the World, by Conn Hallinan

The US is upgrading its nuclear arsenal, perhaps enough to tempt American policymakers to launch a war against Russia and China. That would, undoubtedly, go perfectly according to plan. From Conn Hallinan at antiwar.com:

How a growing technology gap between the U.S. and its nuclear-armed rivals could lead to the unraveling of arms control agreements – and even nuclear war

At a time of growing tensions between nuclear powers – Russia and NATO in Europe, and the US, North Korea, and China in Asia – Washington has quietly upgraded its nuclear weapons arsenal to create, according to three leading American scientists, “exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, Matthew McKinzie of the National Resources Defense Council, and physicist and ballistic missile expert Theodore Postol conclude that “Under the veil of an otherwise-legitimate warhead life-extension program,” the US military has vastly expanded the “killing power” of its warheads such that it can “now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos.”

The upgrade – part of the Obama administration’s $1 trillion modernization of America’s nuclear forces – allows Washington to destroy Russia’s land-based nuclear weapons, while still retaining 80 percent of US warheads in reserve. If Russia chose to retaliate, it would be reduced to ash.

A Failure of Imagination

Any discussion of nuclear war encounters several major problems.

First, it’s difficult to imagine or to grasp what it would mean in real life. We’ve only had one conflict involving nuclear weapons – the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – and the memory of those events has faded over the years. In any case, the two bombs that flattened those Japanese cities bear little resemblance to the killing power of modern nuclear weapons.

The Hiroshima bomb exploded with a force of 15 kilotons, or kt. The Nagasaki bomb was slightly more powerful, at about 18 kt. Between them, they killed over 215,000 people. In contrast, the most common nuclear weapon in the US arsenal today, the W76, has an explosive power of 100 kt. The next most common, the W88, packs a 475-kt punch.

Another problem is that most of the public thinks nuclear war is impossible because both sides would be destroyed. This is the idea behind the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, aptly named “MAD.”

To continue reading: These Nuclear Breakthroughs Are Endangering the World