April 17th, 2017

North Korea: a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis?

The NY Times writes:

What is playing out, said Robert Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who tracks this potentially deadly interplay, is “the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” But the slow-motion part appears to be speeding up, as President Trump and his aides have made it clear that the United States will no longer tolerate the incremental advances that have moved Mr. Kim so close to his goals.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has said repeatedly that “our policy of strategic patience has ended,” hardening the American position as Mr. Kim makes steady progress toward two primary goals: shrinking a nuclear weapon to a size that can fit atop a long-range missile, and developing a hydrogen bomb, with up to a thousand times the power of the Hiroshima-style weapons he has built so far.

While all historical analogies are necessarily imprecise — for starters, President John F. Kennedy dealt with the Soviets and Fidel Castro in a perilous 13 days in 1962, while the roots of the Korean crisis go back a quarter-century — one parallel shines through. When national ambitions, personal ego and deadly weapons are all in the mix, the opportunities for miscalculation are many.

It’s a very imperfect analogy, as the Times authors David E. Sanger and William J. Broad note. And when they add that the roots of the North Korean crisis go back a quarter-century (or more, I’d say), they also are implicitly although not explicitly acknowledging that it has challenged and stumped Trump’s predecessors from both parties.

There are other big differences between the Cuban crisis (which was really with the USSR) and the North Korean one, as well. The Soviet Union of the nuclear age may have been an evil empire, but it was headed by fairly rational actors regarding their weaponry. North Korea is headed by a person who might be a lot less stable than that (and his father before him was only marginally better than he).

The Soviets already didn’t just have the bomb, they possessed a fully functional arsenal of them, and the issue during the Cuban missile crisis was whether some of that arsenal would be stationed very near us. The North Koreans are trying to develop the capacity to reach our shores from across the Pacific, not to station bombs right off the US coast. And at the time of the Cuban crisis, the Soviets were a major power beholden to no one, whereas North Korea is dependent on a seemingly more rational actor than itself, China, which might be willing to discourage North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Nevertheless, there is a game of chicken going on between the US and North Korea, and it’s been going on for many decades.

Sanger and Broad also give Trump some credit when they write: “So far, Mr. Trump has played his hand — militarily, at least — as cautiously as his predecessors.” They add:

Still, the current standoff has grown only more volatile. It pits a new president’s vow never to allow North Korea to put American cities at risk — “It won’t happen!” he said on Twitter on Jan. 2 — against a young, insecure North Korean leader who sees that capability as his only guarantee of survival.

Mr. Trump is clearly new to this kind of dynamic…

Trump is indeed new to this kind of dynamic applied to the enormously important and dangerous issues of nuclear weaponry and war. He’s not new to the dynamic itself, however: cajoling, threatening, pressuring, negotiating, backing off, pushing.

Obama was also new to negotiating about nuclear weaponry, and he was more naive about it, too (or, if you subscribe to certain other theories about Obama, less intent on protecting the US). And I’ll take Trump’s advisors over Obama’s advisors (Ben Rhodes, anyone?) any day. But the truth is that every president since at least Clinton has faced a terrible and exceptionally challenging dilemma in dealing with North Korea and its drive to become an effective nuclear power.

33 Responses to “North Korea: a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis?”

  1. blert Says:

    Let’s not forget Carter’s sabotage of Clinton’s diplomacy right at the end of Kim Il-sung’s life.

    Bill has never forgiven Jimmy for his stunt.

    That was the most opportune moment to un-atomic North Korea.

    I suspect that Trump has informed Xi that Chinese economic interests will suffer — greatly — if Kim is not brought to heel.

    BTW, so long as the war games ( now under way ) roll on Kim feels compelled to keep his boys standing at arms. Yet he needs to release them so they can plant rice.

    I suspect that Trump is going to wear down Kim’s economy via this mechanism.

    It’s worth noting that Iran’s atomic program is wedded to that of Kim. He’s performing the work; they are paying his way.

    So atomic North Korea really means atomic Iran, too.

    The Big Money that Barry gave Tehran financed this nightmare.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo,

    “North Korea is dependent on a seemingly more rational actor than itself, China, which might be willing to discourage North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.”

    Were China willing to discourage North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, it would never have allowed Kim to reach this point.

    China has been N. Korea’s protectorate since 1950. N. Korea has always pursued nukes with China’s complicity and encouragement.

    “every president since at least Clinton has faced a terrible and exceptionally challenging dilemma in dealing with North Korea and its drive to become an effective nuclear power.”

    As Richard Fernandez recently pointed out with some dialog from “The Maltese Falcon”, an unwillingness to nuke the bastards demonstrates a lack of resolve.

    “Sam Spade: If you kill me, how are you going get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you going to scare me into giving it to you?

    Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.

    Sam Spade: Yes, that’s… That’s true. But, there’re none of them any good unless the threat of death is behind them.

    [my emphasis]

    The Norks have known since the Korean War that our fear of getting into a war with China reveals a lack of the American public’s resolve. Our former President’s dithering is a reflection of the public’s unwillingness to bite the bullet. And a problem becomes ever more costly to resolve, the longer it is allowed to fester.

    I suspect that Trump has informed Xi that Chinese economic interests will suffer — greatly — if Kim is not brought to heel. blert

    Doesn’t anything we might do to make China’s economic interests suffer… cut both ways? If so, then one party has to be willing to suffer along with the other party. Which begs the question… is the American public willing to do that?

  3. Frog Says:

    I have another name for it: American cowardice, starting with Truman’s firing of Douglas Macarthur, who wanted to cross the Yalu while the Chicomms were in retreat.
    In the interval, the NORKs have armed themselves substantially, with perhaps 50,000 rockets aimed at South Korea and its capital, Seoul, less than 50 miles from the DMZ.

    It it truly the kick-the-can story of the past century. But there might be collateral damage! Uh-huh, because that is what war is.

    Every year the remedy becomes more onerous. Complicated by the fact that Red China is Kim’s back door, so an embargo like with Cuba is impossible. And with every can-kick, China has become more powerful.

    Little Kim is “threatening” to shoot off a ballistic missile every day. Let him, egg him on; it is a great way to deplete his stock.
    Probably the best solution is to drop a tactical nuke on Pyongyang at a time when Kim is not in his hidey hole.

    We must keep Kim’s six (or so) nukes out of the hands of the ayatollahs at all cost. Iran can sure afford to buy one or more thanks to the loot supplied by Barack Hussein’s “deal”.

    All this makes me so glad Trump is in the White House. Unlike BHO, I bet he attends his daily intelligence briefings. Hillary would ignore them.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Frog,

    “We must keep Kim’s six (or so) nukes out of the hands of the ayatollahs at all cost. Iran can sure afford to buy one or more thanks to the loot supplied by Barack Hussein’s “deal”.

    Where does Pakistan fit in that calculus?

  5. J.J. Says:

    H.R. McMaster has studied the Cuban missile crisis in detail. It was the first part of his book, “Dereliction of Duty.” Gradually raising the stakes until the USSR blinked became the gold standard for the Kennedy administration and also for LBJ. Johnson believed it would work on Ho Chi Minh. He alternatively raised the heat and lowered it on North Vietnam with “Rolling Thunder” followed by bombing pauses. It didn’t work with Ho because he was more committed to his cause than Johnson was, even when up against the superior firepower of the U.S. Superior firepower that Johnson never used because of “world opinion” and the anti-war left in the U.S. Both of which encouraged Ho to hang on. McMaster has, no doubt, thought of better ways to proceed in such situations.

    If a pre-emptive strike is going to be made, it must first obliterate the 13,00 artillery pieces placed just north of the DMZ and aimed at Seoul. Nearly simultaneously the nuclear facilities must be severely damaged. Our military has that capability, but it would require precise timing and optimal execution in order to protect Seoul and its citizens.

    Another approach, which Johnson never took with the North Vietnamese, is to lay down a marker. Inform the Norks that if North Korea attacks any other nation with a missile, atomic or not, we will level Pyongyang and their nuclear facilities. As a proof of intent inform them that we will always have two nuclear submarines in range at all times. Put their destiny in their hands.

    In the meantime our best hope diplomatically is that China is willing to bring some pressure to bear on its client state. Maybe that will work, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

  6. DNW Says:

    Americans keep worrying about the effects of an EMP on our electrical systems.

    In North Korea, even in Ping-Pong or whatever the f88k it’s called, the electricity is likely to go out at any moment.

    The entire country’s infrastructure could be shut down with a score or three of well placed cruise missiles.

    http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/national_energy_grid/north-korea/northKoreaCountryAnalysisBrief.shtml

    Half of their pathetic electricity output comes from Hydro. The country is already subject to catastrophic flooding. Not hard to figure what would put them out of commission permanently.

    Problem is, you have to be willing to see 80 percent of them die.

    As an aside, the upper Wiki page on Energy in North Korea reads just like it was taken from one of those adjective atrocity laden NK propaganda screeds. Hilarious.

  7. parker Says:

    IMO China is beginning to feel young, pudgy Kim is a serious problem. China does not want a unified Korea. It wants NK as a client state, not a crazy, reckless state. And China does not want a war on the peninsula. Perhaps a realignment in Pyongyang can be arranged. Beijing must have moles in NK’s power structure.

    All speculation, but China has a self interest in NK not going totally cuckcoo.

  8. mchenrybob Says:

    How would Kim-Jung-Un save face if Trump called him a crackpot dictator who is so incompetent that he can’t even feed his own people?

  9. y81 Says:

    There are at least two viable strategies for the US at the moment. One is the classic Trump strategy of getting Party A to do in Party B for the benefit of Trump/the United States. Read “The Art of the Deal” for some examples. The other is the FDR strategy of using a thousand pinpricks to goad the other party into an attack, which we then use as a justification for annihilating them.

  10. y81 Says:

    I should add: in the North Korean context, the first strategy involves getting China to sponsor a coup to replace Kim Jong Un with a more pliable, China-friendly member of the Kim family as dictator. I understand the Chinese have a couple candidates on tap. But obviously the enterprise would have some risks for them.

  11. expat Says:

    parker,
    I’m with you on China’s change of attitude toward North Korea. Also, they don’t need moles there. They already have people who do business deals with them and supply them with parts they need for military equipment. In addition, they probably have plenty of Norks who have crossed their border.

    This could be a kind of good cop/bad cop scenario. The Amis talk tough, and the Chinese offer Kim Jung Un’s skeptics at home a bit of power if they get rid of the nut. The last thing the Chinese want is half of the Norks flooding into China. We could respond by offering recognition to the country and some food aid if they can set up a reasonable post-Kim government that discontinues its nuke programs.

  12. blert Says:

    Kim Jong Un will have a heart attack if Trump keeps the war games rolling… on and on and on.

    Trump is a pretty good bet to win escalation dominance.

    Kim is largely restricted to raging threats.

    I would expect that American tactical nukes are being returned to the fleet ( CVN-68 ) and to South Korea. (2nd Infantry Division)

    Slowly bleeding out the Nork economy is the way forward.

    One should also expect cyber attacks against North Korea… probably taking the form of access denial by North Korea to the rest of the Web.

  13. blert Says:

    Kim keeps his pals happy with show piece projects.

    These will also be ham strung… with a thousand pin-pricks.

    Barry Soetoro left Donald Trump a world scale fiasco.

  14. parker Says:

    expat,

    China certainly does not want millions of hungry North Koreans trying to crash their border. Hence, 150,000 troops rushed to the border. South Korea likewise does not want to burden their economy with what unification would entail. I feel pity for the 90% of norks who suffer in this slave state, but not ennough to provoke war on the peninsula.

    Decapitate the Kims and let a more competent, less reckless dictatorship rule.

  15. Frs Says:

    blert Says:The Big Money that Barry gave Tehran financed this nightmare.

    Must mentioning Iran’s Big Money from Iraq fro lat 14 years Iran main player by Sistani, who investing “his” billions of dollars inside Iraq according to sources also Iranian the companies/ traders inside Iraq who are driving and controlling the markets from Iranian Cars to simple food products, also those holly cities in Najaf and Karbala Iranian note are main note by traders and contractors working there not ID or US dollars.

  16. Frs Says:

    inside Iraq

    should be inside Iran not iraq

  17. Frs Says:

    Iran’s Iraqi Market

  18. Cornflour Says:

    Most American soldiers serving in Korea end up hating it. There’s a lot to like about the people and the country, but a large majority of Koreans hate Americans, and much of their military would evaporate under an attack from the North. American soldiers are there to die during such an attack. It’s not even a suicide mission. Their deaths would be just a trigger for a larger US invasion, which would be very bloody. All US troops in Korea know that’s the strategy, and it’s the other reason they hate being there.

    This has been the situation for decades. However unsatisfactory, it’s provided stability for South Korea, and it’s allowed China to use the North as a buffer between China and what was once an American threat. The big change, of course, is that the North is now threatening the US, not the South. That’s destabilized the situation, and greatly increased China’s leverage, not Trump’s. Without a credible American threat to obliterate the North and engage Chinese forces that would immediately cross the border, the US has no leverage. It doesn’t matter who the president is. There is absolutely no American appetite for that kind of all-out war. But, without war, the North Koreans will eventually attack the US with a swarm of missiles armed with hydrogen bombs. They have a rational expectation of US surrender. Why wouldn’t they? The Chinese are very well aware of this. For decades, they’ve had the power to decide the future of both Koreas. Now they have the power to decide the future of the US. The question is not what Trump will do, it’s what the Chinese will do, and what US support and concessions they’ll demand.

  19. parker Says:

    Cornflour,

    One of my sons spent in the Army National Guard, 18 months in SK, before deployment to Iraq 2003. He did not feel about SKs as you describe. Mileage may differ.

  20. AesopFan Says:

    Okay, somebody knows the answer to this question, but I never thought to ask it until now.
    China DOES have nuclear bombs, that is a known fact (as opposed to the alternative kind).
    If NK is so important as their client state and security buffer, why is NK having to develop their own bombs, instead of getting them from China?

    Wikipedia says ” Later, China, after its nuclear tests, similarly rejected North Korean requests for help with developing nuclear weapons.[9]”

    http://apjjf.org/-Lee-Jae-Bong/3053/article.html

    The next logical step was asking the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons of its own. This occurred in 1963. Moscow refused, but to placate its ally the Soviets agreed to help the North develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, starting with the installation of a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in 1965. Three hundred North Korean nuclear scientists were trained in the Soviet Union during the next two decades, and it was the Yongbyon reactor, enlarged by North Korea without Soviet help, that eventually became the focus of U.S. suspicions of a nuclear weapons effort in the 1980s.

    “Fourth, shortly after China detonated its first atomic blast in 1964, Kim Il-Sung headed a delegation to Beijing asking for assistance to develop nuclear weapons. In a letter to Mao Zedong, he declared that China and North Korea, as brother countries who shared fighting and dying on the battlefield, should share the atomic secret. But Mao turned down the North Korean request on the grounds that a small country like North Korea did not need nuclear weapons.

    As we have seen, North Korea has long had an interest in nuclear development as a response to the introduction and deployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea. Kim Il-Sung is reported to have made another request for Chinese aid in 1974, when it became known that South Korea attempted to develop nuclear weapons with the aid of the French, but this was also turned down. And so North Korea appears to have launched an earnest effort to indigenously develop nuclear weapons in the late 1970s. Several factors played a role in this decision.

    First, the Korean peninsula is surrounded by the four major world powers; the United States, Japan, China, and Russia. North Korea is cut off on land by China and Russia to the north and South Korea to the south. To the west across the Yellow Sea lies China, and to the east, it is surrounded by Japan and the U.S. By the late 1960s South Korea and the four major powers encircling North Korea had all either developed their own nuclear weapons or deployed U.S. nuclear weapons on their territory.

    It is believed that the nuclear weapons that were in South Korea since 1958 were withdrawn by the end of 1991. …The U.S. has pledged consistently that it would place South Korea under its nuclear umbrella to the present day. Here, a ‘nuclear umbrella’ refers to a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state with nuclear weapons. Since the U.S. would retaliate with nuclear weapons if South Korea came under nuclear attack from an enemy, this could be viewed by an adversary as no different than South Korea possessing defensive nuclear weapons.

    In contrast, North Korea has never fallen under the nuclear umbrella of the Soviet Union or China. At a time when all nations encircling North Korea either possessed various types of nuclear weapons in large quantities or enjoyed the U.S. nuclear umbrella, North Korea alone did not have its own nuclear weapons and was not afforded such an umbrella by its allies.

    All very interesting, but WHY were the USSR and China unwilling to help NK with nukes, other than it being “too small”, and why are there no pacts to retaliate if it is attacked?

  21. Snow on Pine Says:

    I find it interesting that only conservative news sources are reporting that the Chinese have moved 150,000 troops to their border with the DPRK, with North Korea.

    Looking at the “correlation of forces,” how the chessboard is set, I see no good answers for us here.

    The current “dear leader” has killed his way through a lot of rivals and opponents, real or imagined, political indoctrination is constant and heavy, and I would be very surprised if he hadn’t surrounded himself with a loyal bunch of toadies, who will do his bidding out of both advantage and fear.

    However much of it is smoke and mirrors, in terns of numbers, if not capabilities, the DPRK’s standing army numbers over a million men with eight million reserves, and while the populace starves, the military and the political elite do not. Reportedly the DPRK has numerous special forces units, and lots of pre-dug tunnels leading South.

    However close the North Koreans are to mating a nuclear weapon to an ICBM capable of reaching Japan or the U.S. west coast, they undoubtedly have thousands of well dug in artillery tubes capable of reaching South Korea’s capitol Seoul just 35 miles south of their border, and very likely other WMD—chemical and biological weapons stocks—deliverable via aircraft or shorter range artillery shells and rockets

    There are hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in concentration camps.

    Were the regime to fall, how will China, South Korea, the U.S., and other countries in the region deal with with whatever remains of the North Korean military forces, fanatically loyal Communist cadres, those who run the camps, and 20 million starving, uneducated Koreans who, in terms of technology, are likely stuck back in the 1950s?

    Providing relatively sane and unthreatening governance, food, clothing, shelter, and education for such vast numbers will be a huge challenge.

    If the regime fell, China, I’d imagine, would still be the primary influence on what came next, I’d also imagine a North Korea that was still very much a client state of the PRC, and neither the PRC or South Korea eager to foot the bill for it’s reconstruction and integration along more normal lines.

    This is just a mess, with no really “good” solutions, and cutting this Gordian Knot—that no one up until now has been willing to cut—is truly daunting; a precarious and very dangerous operation.

    The alternative, however, is finding our allies in the region and, eventually ourselves, under the unacceptable threat of nuclear blackmail from a highly erratic and irrational dictator or his successor.

    It seems to me that it is better to try to dismantle and de-fang the DPRK under circumstances where we might have some control over the process and outcome, than hanging back and hoping that the regime will disintegrate on its own, before it gets an operational nuclear weapon that can be delivered by a reliable ICBM, by submarine, or even by a cargo ship.

  22. Snow on Pine Says:

    P.S.–Make the DPRK’s population 25 million, not 20.

  23. The Other Chuck Says:

    AesopFan:
    I’ve stopped relying on Wiki as an unbiased source. The article you quote from is one example of why.

  24. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “All very interesting, but WHY were the USSR and China unwilling to help NK with nukes, other than it being “too small”, and why are there no pacts to retaliate if it is attacked?” AesopFan

    Those are fair and astute questions. One does not hand a ‘gun’ to a mental patient. Both the USSR and especially China, view N. Korea as a ‘sacrificial pawn’ in communism’s struggle with the capitalist West.

    The choice for the West is a simple and horrific one. Act now with a high probability of millions of deaths or continue to kick the can down the road with an endpoint of hundreds of millions of deaths.

    History consistently demonstrates which choice democracies make and the resultant consequences.

  25. Big Maq Says:

    “Trump is a pretty good bet to win escalation dominance.” – blert

    In the ultimate “escalation” for dominance, it is undoubtedly the US that will win the military war.

    It is what happens afterward that matters.

    If it comes to that, it may well be trading one set of bad problems for another set of bad problems.

    IF a war breaks out, that opens the door for our enemies on other fronts.

    Regime change seems to be something that would work for both China and the West, without escalating into war.

  26. Snow on Pine Says:

    The DPRK has been very useful to the PRC as an irritant to the West, and propping up the DPRK staves off the possibility of it’s disintegration, which would flood China and South Korea with tens of millions of starving and uneducated refugees.

    But at what point does the DPRK turn, instead, into a liability?

    The scenario in which the PRC’s men in the DPRKs leadership of which, my guess is, they have a few, stage a coup, take over the state’s apparatus and military, gets rid of their nuclear and other WMD capabilities, and slowly brings the country down into some sort of soft landing would be ideal, if it were possible.

    It would certainly save millions of lives, and prevent wide spread and catastrophic destruction that would result if the DPRK started a war.

    There have certainly been many successful coups in history but, I’d think that the possibility of a coup was the constant fear in dear leaders head, and that he has taken very elaborate steps to prevent one.

    Could the U.S. insert say, Seal Team Six, into Pyongyang, and have them perform the decapitation?

    Possible in a novel, not so possible in reality, and very likely a suicide mission with very little chance of success.

    Balancing risk vs reward, though, if things got very dicey and an attack on the our regional allies or the U.S. were immanent, it might be worth a try.

    A joint PRC-U.S. effort at a coup? Possibility?

  27. DNW Says:

    The choice for the West is a simple and horrific one. Act now with a high probability of millions of deaths or continue to kick the can down the road with an endpoint of hundreds of millions of deaths.

    History consistently demonstrates which choice democracies make and the resultant consequences.”

    My guess is the best case scenario would be a few tens of thousand in a semi decapitation to a few hundred thousand deaths in a more protracted and conventional American shock and awe strike.

    In the latter: Seoul heavily damaged with rockets for a few hours, possibly an American ship or two sunk, a hundred thou North Korean soldiers killed quickly. They have no air force worth anything. I am sure their subs are all being tracked and could be wiped out quickly. No naval power. They have rockets, suicidally determined cannon fodder, and the threat of nuclear detonations.

    Most of the country is a Potemkin village which is only intermittently electrified.

    As I looked into it, it appears that 4 of their more famous hydro plants are joint operations with the Chinese. This could work either way when it comes to getting the power shut off to NK.

    Others are in situations wherein they could be destroyed without international repercussions.

    No problem destroying coal plants or power transmission lines. Their highway system is mostly unpaved.

    The more closely one looks at it the more hollow NK looks. Lots of fierce faces and shouts. Lots of rocket launching tubes. No electricity, no food, no transport, no modern arms.

    They have threatened to explode nuclear weapons in the U.S. Technically we are still at war with them.

    Doesn’t look to be much selection.

  28. blert Says:

    DNW

    North Korea has a disturbingly effective submarine force.

    Their latest strategic rocket is in the same family as our Polaris design.

    They have already proved to be a nightmare to track.

    Our defense depends on their primitive Diesel-electric propulsion. Their missile sub would have to surface repeatedly on its way to the launch point.

    South Korea and Japan — and Guam — would be in the cross-hairs, though.

    But the REAL headache is that everything Kim is doing is being financed by Tehran.

    Iran has outsourced its atomic program to Syria and North Korea.

    The Israelis were shocked at the Syrian connection. They blew it up, BTW.

    Kim has one economic nightmare: oil imports. Iran is delighted to scratch that itch.

    This tit-for-tat has hugely reduced Red China’s influence in Pyongyang.

    Kim has a new strategic export, and it’s atomic ordnance.

    He is an engine of proliferation… all by himself.

  29. DNW Says:

    “blert Says:
    April 18th, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    DNW

    North Korea has a disturbingly effective submarine force.

    Their latest strategic rocket is in the same family as our Polaris design.

    They have already proved to be a nightmare to track.

    Our defense depends on their primitive Diesel-electric propulsion. Their missile sub would have to surface repeatedly on its way to the launch point.”

    You might be right, but I could not confirm that from what I have read in public sources.

    In fact, they appear to have mostly midget subs meant for commando raids into the South; and some aging eastern block style submarines which might or might not be serviceable and might or might not be capable of effectively launching cruise missiles; and a handful of current crop, almost fleet sized boats which supposedly can launch missiles of the kind you mention.

    Whether they must surface in order to do so, I don’t know. But the number of diesel electric ocean going boats they have with any capabilities seems small enough to track effectively and kill. If they are already at sea, they will be coming up for air. But they are likely constant blips on a targeting screen as we speak.

    Any “Polaris” style missile they have, would according to the implication of news reports carry a conventional warhead since NK has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear warheads; something the US managed in 1958.

    I suppose they might have cooked up something like the old Regulus which I was reading about in order to confirm my understanding.

    In that case, if they could fit one of their boats with a cruise missile capable of carrying a 3000 lbs payload, and if it were nuclear, and if it worked, then they would be able to so more than bomb Los Angeles with a half ton of TNT delivered via a ballistic missile.

  30. DNW Says:

    And since I have reached the end of my personal historical and technical understanding of this era and equipment, I’ll refrain from further comment on this particular matter.

  31. Frs Says:

    On April 9 — nine days ago — the Trump administration announced that it was sending an aircraft carrier and four accompanying vessels to Korean waters. The strike group was supposed to be doing exercises near Australia, but the administration was diverting it in anticipation of a possible North Korean missile test. The scary implication: The US was putting its warships in place in preparation for a possible strike on North Korea.

    Except it turns out there was a bit of an oopsie: Despite Trump’s boast last week that he was “sending an armada” to North Korea, as of Saturday, the carrier group in question was still hanging out with the Australian navy off the coast of Indonesia — 3,500 miles from North Korea.

    The US said this aircraft carrier was near North Korea.

  32. parker Says:

    Actually Frs, the distance between NK and Indonesia is a little shy of 3000 miles. You reference such reliable sources… Vox, Huffington…. well, to your credit you have not referenced infowars. 😉

  33. Ymar Sakar Says:

    I log on and it sounds like end times.

    Bunch of crazy stuff people think is normal.

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