A North Korean defector has revealed that Kim Jung Un is ready to launch an “all-out nuclear war” against the United States, according to CNN news sources in Seoul, South Korea. However, defense analysts and specialists believe that, unless the North Korean government has kept hidden technology that would suggest otherwise, the small Asian nation does not have the long-range capability to strike targets in the U.S. But could Kim make good on his threats and actually pull off a successful preemptive first strike in a limited nuclear war — call it World War 3 light — against the United States?
CNN reported last week on “The Lead” that, in addition to DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) dictator Kim Jung Un’s New Year’s Day message to his people wherein he claimed (as recounted in the Inquisitr) the military was in the “final stage” of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a North Korean defector, a former diplomat, has warned that Kim has become more aggressive and, therefore, more dangerous with regard to the use of nuclear weapons. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr noted that North Korea had launched a satellite into space and had claimed to have developed a working nuclear warhead to be fitted to an ICBM (something U.S. intelligence had yet to confirm but was working on the assumption that the claim was true), but current intelligence on North Korea’s missile development suggested that the regime had quite a way to go before developing the technology for an ICBM to reach and actually hit a target in the U.S.
Leading military experts agree that North Korea as yet does not have the long-range missile strike capability to launch nuclear weapons United States. Rand Corporation’s senior defense analyst, Bruce Bennett, told “The Lead” guest-host, Jim Sciutto, that North Korea was “probably not” in the position to realistically threaten the continental U.S. with a nuclear missile launch.
“This last year,” Bennett said, “they’ve launched eight different Musudan missiles that have about a 3,000 kilometer range, and seven of those failed, including the last two. So, Kim Jong-un has still some distance to go before he’s going to have all of this working.”
Sciutto brought up the concern that North Korea might use nuclear weapons, once it mastered the technology of directed ICBMs, early, or perhaps preemptively in a war with the U.S.
“We have historical references from the Kim family suggesting that they would be prepared to use nuclear weapons early in any conflict,” Bennett confirmed. He then added, “So, it is a concern.”
As for the strength of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence estimates indicate that the yield of the weapons being tested were getting stronger. BBC News reported recently that that the latest nuclear test, reportedly conducted in September, packed a payload of between 10 and 30 kilotons. North Korea has also claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb — in January, 2016 — but all data regarding the test suggests the claim was untrue. And while U.S. defense and intelligence officials do not believe the DPRK has the warhead miniaturization capability, prudence prompts the same officials to assume that it does.
Professor Siegfried S. Hecker of Stanford University, an authority on North Korean weapons’ development, also believes it should be “assumed” that the country is able to produce warheads capable of being fitted to short-range and perhaps medium-range missiles. He wrote in 2016 that the DPRK, though, does not appear to have a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, and that such a development was “still a long way off — perhaps five to ten years, but likely doable if the program is unconstrained.”
But as Kim Jung Un has become more aggressive toward the U.S., as Starr reported, the usual methods of deterrence could prove ineffective. Besides, Kim and the DPRK has historically ignored a number of United Nations resolutions and condemnations regarding its continued testing of nuclear weapons. She noted that the defector had also said, “Kim is no longer interested in money, financial aid or economic relief. He wants the world to acknowledge him as a nuclear superpower.”
Bennett later added, “He [Kim] is very anxious to take advantage anywhere he can. And so, President-elect Trump has got to be very ready when he comes in to immediately take some actions.”
Donald Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States on January 20. North Korea is expected to either conduct some type of missile launch or detonate another underground nuclear device as a posturing move by Kim Jung Un prior to the inauguration, according to the Daily Star. And although an escalation to a limited nuclear war (or, worse, a quasi-World War 3 involving perhaps China and NATO) seems unlikely, tensions between North Korea and the United States are not projected to lessen in the near future.
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