In his seven chaotic months in office, President Trump has publicly insulted members of his own Cabinet, Senate Republicans, and the hosts of Morning Joe, the Obama administration, and the nation’s intelligence services. He’s mused about firing special counsel Robert Mueller, publicly questioned America’s commitment to NATO, and threatened to punish Qatar, a vital Middle Eastern ally. But this verbal Assault on North Korea has taken things to altogether different level.
August 11, 2017 President Donald Trump further escalated his rhetorical standoff with North Korea Friday morning, suggesting the US was ready to respond with military force should the rogue nation “act unwisely.” This comes after Tuesday (8th August) remark of : They will meet “Fire and fury like the world has never seen before” He better do not threaten United States of America, Says Donald J Trump which has stunned the world and this improvised comment was stunning to many of his own advisers. The date August 8, 2017 will go in history books or not will be decided by the future course of actions. This comes in back drop of strongest ever UN sanction on a country
While no US president has been successful at curbing North Korea ’s nuclear ambitions, Trump is uniquely unsuited to it.
Defence strategists often refer to North Korea as “the land of no good options.” Because of its nuclear capabilities and its vast array of artillery, any US military action against North Korea could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in South Korea and Japan.
Understanding North Korean crisis:
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
North Korea ratified the treaty on 12 December 1985, but gave notice of withdrawal from the treaty on 10 January 2003 following U.S. allegations that it had started an illegal enriched uranium weapons program, and the U.S. subsequently stopping fuel oil shipments under the Agreed Framework which had resolved plutonium weapons issues in 1994. The withdrawal became effective 10 April 2003 making North Korea the first state ever to withdraw from the treaty. North Korea had once before announced withdrawal, on 12 March 1993, but suspended that notice before it came into effect.
On 10 February 2005, North Korea publicly declared that it possessed nuclear weapons and pulled out of the six-party talks hosted by China to find a diplomatic solution to the issue. “We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have manufactured nuclear arms for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration’s evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said regarding the issue. Six-party talks resumed in July 2005.
On 19 September 2005, North Korea announced that it would agree to a preliminary accord. Under the accord, North Korea would scrap all of its existing nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities, rejoin the NPT, and readmit IAEA inspectors. The difficult issue of the supply of light water reactors to replace North Korea’s indigenous nuclear power plant program, as per the 1994 Agreed Framework, was left to be resolved in future discussions. On the next day North Korea reiterated its known view that until it is supplied with a light water reactor it will not dismantle its nuclear arsenal or rejoin the NPT.
On 2 October 2006, the North Korean foreign minister announced that his country was planning to conduct a nuclear test “in the future”, although it did not state when. On Monday, 9 October 2006 at 01:35:28 (UTC) the United States Geological Survey detected a magnitude 4.3 seismic event 70 km (43 mi) north of Kimchaek, North Korea indicating a nuclear test. The North Korean government announced shortly afterward that they had completed a successful underground test of a nuclear fission device.
In 2007, reports from Washington suggested that the 2002 CIA reports stating that North Korea was developing an enriched uranium weapons program, which led to North Korea leaving the NPT, had overstated or misread the intelligence. On the other hand, even apart from these press allegations—which some critics[by whom?] worry could have been planted in order to justify the United States giving up trying to verify the dismantlement of Pyongyang’s uranium program in the face of North Korean intransigence—there remains some information in the public record indicating the existence of a uranium effort. Quite apart from the fact that North Korean First Vice Minister Kang Sok Ju at one point admitted the existence of a uranium enrichment program, Pakistan’s then-President Musharraf revealed that the A.Q. Khan proliferation network had provided North Korea with a number of gas centrifuges designed for uranium enrichment. Additionally, press reports have cited U.S. officials to the effect that evidence obtained in dismantling Libya’s WMD programs points toward North Korea as the source for Libya’s uranium hexafluoride (UF6) – which, if true, would mean that North Korea has a uranium conversion facility for producing feedstock for centrifuge enrichment.
North Korea has done 5 nuclear tests since then 9th October 2006, 25th May 2009, 12th Feb 2013, 6th January 2016 and 9 Sept 2016 and that is the problem now if North Korea attains the nuclear weapons and US keeps itself out of it then Japan & South Korea have to start one for their own which in turn will increase proliferation and will take world to another step towards destruction.
War with Pyongyang
Despite bellicose rhetoric coming from US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, analysts say there are no signs the US is planning a first strike on North Korea or that Kim will make good on threats to hit the US territory of Guam. The US military isn’t in any position right now to strike North Korea with the kind of campaign that would be needed to bring battlefield success and would need weeks, if not months, to sort out the logistics, analysts say.
North Korea has thousands of conventional artillery pieces within range of the South Korean capital of Seoul. Studies have estimated South Korean casualties from artillery barrages to be in the tens of thousands on the first day of conflict.
Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and CNN analyst, said the tens of thousands of US civilians, many of them military dependents, would first need to be evacuated from South Korea. Hertling says a couple of weeks of airstrikes would be needed to take out that artillery. And the US would need the planes, bombs, fuel and support personnel in place to carry out that campaign, he said, comparing it to the country’s Desert Storm operation against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991. In Desert Storm, the US-led coalition began its bombing campaign against Iraq more than five months after hostilities began with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. As with Desert Storm, it would take weeks to get needed US Army tanks and ground troops from the bases in the US to ports in southern South Korea and even longer to get them north to where they’d be in a fight with North Korea, said Hertling.
At the center of the geopolitical storm is the tiny island of Guam
10th August, North Korean state media KCNA said military leaders were working on a proposal to launch four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles into the sea less than 25 miles off Guam’s coast.
North Korean General Kim Rak Gyom, the head of the country’s strategic forces, declared: “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him”. The general outlined a plan to carry out a demonstration launch of four intermediate-range missiles that would fly over Japan and then land in the sea around Guam, “enveloping” the island.
“The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA [Korean People’s Army] will cross the sky above Shimani, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan,” the statement said. “They will fly for 3,356.7 km for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40km away from Guam.”
The statement said the plan for this show of force would be ready by the middle of this month and then await orders from the commander-in-chief, Kim Jong-un.
At the center of the geopolitical storm is the tiny island of Guam, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean. It’s home to a US Navy base and the Andersen Air Force Base, from which American B-1B bombers conducted sorties over the Korean peninsula Tuesday, provoking the ire of Pyongyang’s leadership and an escalating war of words between the US and North Korea. Guam’s Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.
On July 3, 2017, while Americans were preparing for the 241st celebration of the Declaration of Independence, a lone rocket rose from North Korea on a near-vertical trajectory. After five to six minutes of powered flight, the second stage of the missile shut down and coasted to an altitude of about 2,720 kilometers. It then fell back to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere above the Sea of Japan some 900 kilometers to the east of where it had launched. The rocket’s upper stage coasted in freefall for about 32 minutes, and the overall time-of-flight, from launch to atmospheric re-entry, was about 37 minutes.
Only three and a half weeks later, on July 28, there was a second launch of the same type of missile, this time at night, Korean time. The rocket flew approximately the same powered flight trajectory that it had on July 3 (or July 4 in North Korea), this time, however, reaching a higher altitude—a reported 3,725 kilometers. This longer flight path led to yet more unwarranted conclusions that the continental United States was now directly under threat of nuclear attack by North Korea.
Courtesy the Bulletin.org
What above graph illustrates is that North Korea is now capable of hitting US main land but question remains if they have miniaturised the nuclear war heads? Going by the certain media channels who are quoting US intelligence, DPRK has already attained that capability but it still has an ambiguity factor and moreover the track record of CIA has been not very good in case of erstwhile USSR they undershot and in case of Iraq they overshot and such deltas aren’t good especially dealing with Pyongyang.
James Norman Mattis says that the allied militaries “possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth”. Below is the image I have pulled out from Missile defense agency website demonstrating three line of US Missile defence system.
1st Line of Defence: As soon as the North Korean rocket lifts off the launcher the THAAD & Patriot system based in South Korea picks that and destroys it in terminal phase itself.
THAAD : Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase (descent or re-entry) by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991.The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and the warhead of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate on a kinetic energy hit.
Patriot Missile : Even after 40 years Patriot is on the front lines across the world, from South Korea and Taiwan to Turkey, Israel and Yemen. Israeli Patriot batteries have shot down three drones operated by Hamas and Syria. In addition, Saudi Patriot units have shot down missiles aimed at the country by Houthi rebels. Wary of North Korean ballistic missiles, Japan has deployed Patriot missiles to protect key locations, from downtown Tokyo to the distant Ryukyu Islands.
2nd Line of Defence: The Aegis Ballistic Missile defence System (Aegis BMD or ABMD) is a United States Department of defence Missile defence Agency program developed to provide missile defence against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It is part of the United States national missile defence strategy. Aegis BMD (also known as Sea-Based Midcourse) is designed to intercept ballistic missiles post-boost phase and prior to re-entry.
3rd Line of defence: The U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD; previously known as National Missile Defense – NMD) system has reached initial operational capability. Instead of using an explosive charge, it launches a kinetic projectile. The George W. Bush administration accelerated development and deployment of a system proposed in 1998 by the Clinton administration. The system is a dual purpose test and interception facility in Alaska, and in 2006 was operational with a few interceptor missiles. The Alaska site provides more protection against the nuclear threat from North Korean missiles or launches from Russia or China
There are only two other systems besides US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense in the world that can intercept ICBMs. Though many smaller systems exist (tactical ABMs), that generally cannot intercept intercontinental strategic missiles, even if within range—an incoming ICBM simply moves too fast for these systems
- A-135 Russia
- Israel’s Arrow
India and China also have programs. PDV & AAD from India and HQ 26,SC19 and KT 409 (not much information is available in public domain).
With this three layered defence system it’s difficult for Pyongyang to hit US main land espesically in light of lack of maturity in the program but ICMBs travel at very fast speed and each system has a failure probability and on its worst day all three can fail.
Way forward for US
With every passing day it is getting difficult for US to contain North Korea. According to me US has just 4 options available and all are bad.
- Military strikes: US have air supremacy and can bomb the North Korean missile launch pads and nuclear installation in surgical strikes but that can start a war. Because it all depends on how Kim Jong Un reacts and use of artillery on soul can be devastating. US can also consider assassinating Kim Jong Un and then carrying strikes same day but that has risk of all-out war.
- Diplomacy: US have been trying the diplomacy for past 30 years but in reality diplomacy doesn’t work with dictators. But with China and Russia on board the option has gained some weight and according to me is the best option.
- All-out war : US is way superior to North Korea and to win a war over North Korea all they need couple of squadrons on US Fighter jets and bombers along with 2 or 3 Carrier strike groups but DPRK has 1000s of artillery in safe houses and can unleash “Fire and fury” on Seoul which is one among the most densely populated city on planet.
- If let them build the nuclear weapons and live with it; but this will trigger the arms race and South Korea and Japan will soon try getting one’s of their own and that will be a setback to NPT.
If DPRK was dealt by Clinton militarily it would have been easier but things are way complex now and it’s expected next coming months will be eventful.