Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can The U.S. Stop A North Korean Missile Attack Against The U.S.?

Korea Times

Dave Majumdar, National Interest: Can America Stop a North Korean ICBM Aimed at Los Angeles?

North Korea looks set to conduct a space launch in the near future. But while space launch capability is not a threat in and of itself, the same technology could be used to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—one with the potential to hit major cities in the continental United States. For example, North Korea's Unha-3—which might have an range as great as 6,000 miles—could theoretically hit targets as far away as Los Angeles. Moreover, Pyongyang—which recently tested what appears to be a boosted fission bomb—brags that it already has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit atop an ICBM. Some U.S. officials agree with that assessment.

“I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, told reporters in October 2014. “We have not seen it tested. And I don’t think as a commander we can afford the luxury of believing perhaps they haven’t gotten there.”

Read more ....

Update: What Could the US Do to Stop a North Korean ICBM Attack? (Space Daily/Sputnik).

WNU Editor: U.S. concerns on North Korea's growing missile and nuclear ambitions were voiced repeatedly last year .... Top U.S. Admiral: North Korea Is Capable Of A Nuclear Strike On The U.S.. Couple this with reports from South Korea that the North wants to have a ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. .... NK's ultimate goal is to target US mainland (Korea Times), everyone is now becoming nervous. But as to the question "can the U.S. stop a surprised North Korean missile attack against the U.S." .... I am doubtful .... especially if it is a surprised launch with multiple missiles. Fortunately .... we are still far away from that, but now is the time to have a debate on what to do about it.


Don Bacon said...

US ICBMs are considered to be defensive while DPRK's are considered to be offensive. It's part of the great game. But remembering how the US completely destroyed all DPRK cities with aerial bombing in 1950, it's not surprising that DPRK seeks a retaliatory capability.

B.Poster said...

Very respectfully the question that begins the post is misleading. You might as well have asked "can we make it rain the Sarah Desert every day for the next 730 days?" Can we turn the south pole into a warm balmy tropical paradise in the next 50 years?" "Can we do manned space flight that gets to Alpha Centari next week?" The answer is very obviously no. In fact, no one wishing to be taken seriously would even pose such possibilities as a realistic expectation in the short to mid term. Very respectfully the same basic approach applies to a North Korean nuclear attack on the United States. It cannot be prevented.

From your comments WNU you seem to recognize that preventing such an attack is "doubtful." Very, very respectfully I would change doubtful to "impossible" at least in the short to mid term. As for the long term, I would expect North Korean capabilities to improve and given America's political views the type of investment necessary to counter this simply cannot happen and should anyone suggest making the necessary adjustments to counter this such a person will instantly be smeared and destroyed. Even if they could get around this, North Korea has Russia and China backing them!! As such, asking "can the U.S. stop a North Korean missile attack against the U.S." is like asking "can we make it warn in Antartica or can we send a manned space flight to Mars by 2/3/16?" In short the answer to such questions is a resounding "no" and, at best, anyone who posed such questions as though they are possible in the near to mid term would, at best for them, be ignored as loony.

Since North Korean capabilities in this area are likely to increase and the fact they can count as allies Russia and China, the chances of ever being able to "stop" such an attack are roughly equivalent to winning the lottery seven times in one life time, it would seem foolish to devote resources to such an endeavor to devote resources to such nonsense and in fact would be quite dangerous.

So I apologize for any disrespect here and hope you will find it in your hear to forgive me if any was shown toward you, WNU. While this has been a bit long winded or in this case long keyboarded the answer to the question at the top of the post is a resounding "no" and it would be a waste of resources to even try and think we could. See above for analogies.

I agree we need to have a frank and serious debate on this. Preferably the debate needs to move beyond talking points. I will put in another post some suggestions about how we should move forward.

B.Poster said...

I agree a debate on what to do about his is vitally needed. In order to do this, one needs to get past the hysterical anti-Americanism that seems to predominate much of the debate on pretty much anything. I would suggest the following. 1.)South Korea has developed an extremely impressive economy, while under the shadow of total of complete destruction by North Korea. North Korea could has been able to count on the support of countries like China and Russia throughout much of this time. South Korea has not had anything close to this lever of support. For doing what they've managed to do, South Korea should be honored and revered. If faced with a similar situation of having North Korea as a neighbor, it's doubtful at best that the United States could have achieved similar results. The people of South Korea should be saluted, studied, and copied where and when possible. 2.) In a war between the two Koreas, there is no possibility of a victory by the South even if America threw everything it had towards this it would only delay the inevitable victory by North Korea. (Of course the Red Sea could part but the analysis assumes non supernatural intervention.) 3.) Since neither we nor South Korea can expect to defeat North Korea on the battlefield, the only reasonable approach would be to try and make the inevitable victory by North Korea and its allies pyric enough that they would not consider the attack in the first place. 4.)According to one study I read a few years ago 33% of South Korean military officers view the United States as the main enemy. 34% view North Korea as the main enemy. (I suppose the other 33% are undecided.) Should hot war ensue we may find ourselves fighting both North Korea and South Korea!! In any event, it's going to be problematic at best to expect our forces to fight along side such people. Essentially there is significant trust issues would need to be resolved. 5.) The armistice ending the Korean war was happened in the early 1950s. South Korea has had more than enough time to develop an adequate military to meet it's defense needs. Relying on someone else for their defense needs, while playing well in the short to mid term for domestic political needs, has created resentment on the American side and, from the study, it seems the resentment is not limited to America. Essentially going to hot war risks placing our service personnel in the middle of two enemies, not an advisable situation. 3.) Set a "date certain" time for when America is going to withdraw all of it's forces from South Korea, preferably keeping this date from being leaked to the media as the enemy would be sure to capitalize on this if it is leaked. 4.)Help our ally where and when we can to get ready for this date. It needs to be kept in mind that the even basic defense of the American mainland is going to be problematic for the US military at this time. As such, how much assistance we can offer is questionable at best. 5.) While I'm pretty sure South Korea can develop it's own nuclear weapons program, I think it would be a good idea, if possible without endangering our own national security, to leave South Korea with a few dozen nuclear weapons and their delivery systems as a "parting gift" to our ally,

I think our ally would appreciate this and we would get a buffer against North Korea and possibly China. Furthermore we might need their assistance someday. In such a situation, such assistance might be more likely to be forthcoming. In any event, this might make things pyric enough for North Korea and their allies that they might not consider invasion.

I've tied to offer a serious debate on this. I hope it helps.