The Danger of Dismissing North Korea's Nuclear Threat; Bizarre Regime Can Hit U.S. Targets Now

By Pry, Peter Vincent | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Danger of Dismissing North Korea's Nuclear Threat; Bizarre Regime Can Hit U.S. Targets Now


Pry, Peter Vincent, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Peter Vincent Pry, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Prudence and common sense appear to be absent in the Obama administration and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who during the current crisis with North Korea, falsely reassure the American people that Pyongyang cannot deliver on its threats to make a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland.

North Korea could deliver a nuclear bomb in the hold of a freighter under a foreign flag to destroy a U.S. port city such as New York or Los Angeles. They could give a bomb to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or Hezbollah to deliver by truck or plane across the porous U.S. border. They could use a false-flagged freighter to move a Scud or their medium-range Nodong missile close enough to make a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland.

What about North Korea's claim that it has long-range nuclear missiles that can strike the United States - right now? If our current crop of leaders is as prudent as were President Dwight Eisenhower and Sen. Lyndon Johnson in 1957, they would warn the American people that North Korean nuclear threats to the U.S. heartland may be real. After all, North Korea has had at least three successful nuclear tests and successfully orbited a satellite - the latter being the usual indicator that a nuclear power has achieved intercontinental reach.

A recently leaked Defense Intelligence Agency briefing concludes North Korea probably has miniaturized nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles. The Obama administration is desperately backpedaling from this assessment, trying to downplay and even deny the existence of a North Korean nuclear-missile threat - in sad contrast to the example of strategic prudence, realism and honesty set by Eisenhower and Johnson.

After the Soviet Union successfully tested a nuclear weapon in 1949 and then launched into orbit its Sputnik satellite in 1957, a bipartisan national consensus quickly emerged that the USSR had achieved a technological breakthrough, and would soon possess intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of delivering nuclear annihilation against the American heartland. Consequently, the United States launched a crash program to develop ICBMs and other systems to deter this emerging Soviet missile threat.

Liberal historians often criticize those Republican and Democratic leaders of 1957 for overreacting to an allegedly exaggerated missile gap that spurred the United States to outrace the Soviet Union in ICBM production. President John F. Kennedy was glad, though, to have a 5-to-1 advantage over the Soviets in ICBMs during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no such thing as an excess of caution when it comes to anticipating and preparing to deter or defeat the existential threat represented by nuclear weapons. Prudence, caution and preparedness are the watchwords that enabled the United States to avoid a thermonuclear holocaust and ultimately prevail in the Cold War.

Contrary to most press reporting, that North Korea has nuclear missiles is old news. Previously, the DIA (2011), European intelligence agencies (2009), and a CIA official (2008) have all stated publicly that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads and deployed them on its Nodong medium-range missile. This is a conservative, sound assessment, since North Korea has been working on nuclear warheads for nearly 20 years, and has had three nuclear tests. …

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