The past couple of weeks, I joined several other contributors to The Hill, which delivers the daily news focused on the interests of Capitol Hill, to discuss the implications of North Korea entering the ranks of deliverable nuclear weapons by ballistic missiles, particularly intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can reach cities in the continental United States. If you visit congressional offices as well as many other offices around Washington, you will find this daily newspaper on their coffee tables. Given several recent The Hill articles, there’s no excuse for our Senators and Representatives not to understand the threat that is here now.
I hope our Senators, Representatives and others of influence around Washington read these articles that focus on the growing nuclear armed ballistic missile threat to the United States and our overseas troops, friends and allies—and what we should be doing about that threat.
Consider the following sample of The Hill articles of the past couple of weeks:
First, on the recognized evolution of the threat, click here Peter Huessy’s August 2nd well founded assertion that “Taking North Korea’s missile threat seriously is long overdue,” backed up with a recounting of the failed U.S. policies since 1994, including contrary congressional views and their continuing opposition to building ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems to counter that possible threat.
This opposition eventually stalled with the 1998 report from the Rumsfeld Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States that resulted in the Missile Defense Act of 1999 making it our national policy to deploy a BMD system against a limited intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attack on the U.S. homeland. This important step made it possible for the George W. Bush administration to build at least a “limited” BMD defense against a growing and now apparent threat to even the most skeptical.
Huessy retraces the history of the recognition by the U.S. intelligence community that North Korea was on its way to threatening the United States with ICBMs by 2001 — which became the basis for President George W. Bush to withdraw from the ABM Treaty in 2002 and to deploy ground-based interceptor (GBI) sites in Alaska and California, which assumed an operational status in the middle of the last decade, but of disputed effectiveness almost immediately.
Click here for a pertinent 2005 article that describes the initial issues. Notably, the testing record of this defense suggests that it probably will succeed in intercepting attacking ICBMs in only about half of its attempts.
However, he also reports that the projected budget for the years subsequent to 2008 was underfunded by $40 billion, which leaves us with less viable defenses against the current North Korean threat which is now rated to be greater than previously anticipated by the Intelligence Community.
I would add to Huessy’s excellent summary that, because of the recognized growing threat, Congress removed the term “limited” from the 1999 Missile Defense Act, and the new policy established by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 — NDAA(2017) — calls for the United States to “maintain and improve an effective, robust layered missile defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States and its allies against the developing and increasingly complex ballistic missile threat.” This new policy makes building the most effective BMD systems possible the current U.S. objective.
I very much agree with Huessy’s conclusion that “Accurately assessing the threat, while welcome, is long overdue. Thus it is imperative we both protect our vulnerable infrastructure from EMP [electromagnetic pulse] as well as build the most effective defenses, especially space-based sensors and interceptors, that can prevent the use of nuclear warheads against the United States, especially those delivered by ballistic missiles.”
Click here to next consider Dr. Peter Vincent Pry’s excellent August 10th projection that “North Korea might be able to able to win a war if it begins with an EMP in Tokyo.”
He correctly notes that North Korea already has the capability to launch such an EMP attack on Japan, South Korea, and the United States. No reentry vehicles are needed — so alleging that efforts to develop this reentry capability are needed before North Korea can pose an existential threat is false.
Dr. Pry notes that such a “global” attack would not immediately kill anyone, but it could turn off the electricity for an indefinite period in all three nations; and he describes in considerable detail some of the devastating consequences that eventually could lead to the death of most citizens in all three nations — while exempting China and Russia and leaving them as “winners” in such a conflict.
Click here for my June 8, 2017 Wall Street Journal article, “North Korea Dreams of Turning Out the Lights” that made a similar argument, and provides additional information on why our assessments are backed up by past experience.
I agree with Dr. Pry’s conclusion that such an attack would leave the United States, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea in ruins as losers and Russia and China as winners.
And we agree on the need to harden the U.S. electrical grid against an EMP attack, and to make preparations to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles that can pose that threat including to shoot down North Korea’s satellites that can pose that threat!
Click here for my August 10th discussion in The Hill of the essential role of effective BMD systems on land and sea and in space to provide needed defenses against these threats.
Thanks to the Missile Defense Act of 1998 and the initiative of the George W. Bush administration, our existing GBI sites in Alaska and California provide a limited defense against North Korea’s ICBMs. (Note the above reference to its limited capability — perhaps only a 50-percent kill probability.)
Our Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems can defend against short and medium range ballistic missiles that might threaten South Korea and Guam, and they have demonstrated an excellent kill probability. I also urged that the proven Israeli Iron Dome system be purchased to defend South Korea, especially Seoul, against North Korea’s artillery threat.
I also emphasized that our Aegis BMD system deployed by Japan and the U.S. Navy can provide essentially a global defense against North Korea’s ballistic missiles of all ranges. Our Aegis BMD system tests have demonstrated a high kill probability.
Last, but not least, I urged the revival of the most cost-effective global BMD systems pioneered during the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) era (1983-93), namely the space-based BMD systems that were scuttled by the Clinton administration in 1993 — and which have not be revived since then. They more than fit the bill of the new Missile Defense Act and being considered in ongoing studies that have been initiated in response to the NDAA (2017).
Click here for yesterday’s Newsmax article by Retired USAF Lt. General James Abrahamson (the first SDI Director) and myself elaborating on the important capabilities of that Space Based Interceptor system concept called Brilliant Pebbles.
These active defensive measures should be accompanied by sound diplomatic measures, such as described by Ambassador John Bolton. Click here for his August 13th provocative article in The Hill, which argues that “China is our last diplomatic hope for North Korea.”
He begins by reviewing the 25 years of our failed diplomatic activities that are little more than attempts of appeasement. His bottom line is that instead of talking with North Korea, President Trump should emphasize with China’s President XI Jinping that the only option, however difficult it may be to negotiate, is an arrangement that denuclearizes and reunifies Korea.
Notably, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has also written in the Wall Street Journal on “How to Resolve the North Korean Crisis.” Regrettably from my perspective, he observes that “an operational North Korean ICBM arsenal is still some time away given the need for miniature warheads, attach them to missiles and to produce them in numbers.” He needs to be updated on several realities, also now public knowledge.
Click here for Kissinger’s complete article which seems to be more based on hope than experience, especially given the recent reports that the Intelligence Community thinks North Korea already has 60-nuclear warheads—three times the numbers I have previously heard reported. Click here for the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail report of this important information, along with a report that North Korea has already miniaturized its nuclear weapons.
Former Secretary Kissinger does acknowledges that China will “have a stake in the political evolution of North Korea following denuclearization, whether it be a two state solution or unification, and in restrictions on military deployment placed on North Korea.”
I support Ambassador Bolton’s views including his perspective that this could be our last hope before a military confrontation — which I would add could be sooner than later.
It really depends on how President Trump deals with China, and the only good news is that he seems to understand that reality and is dedicated to a truly new approach to confronting North Korea.
Hopefully, the needed conditions are built into President Trump’s plans as presented by his Secretaries of Defense and State in their August 11, 2017 Wall Street Journal article that states:
“The Trump administration, with the support of the international community, is applying diplomatic and economic pressure to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsular and a dismantling of the regime’s ballistic missile programs. We are replacing the failed policy of ‘strategic patience’ with a new policy of strategic accountability.”
Click here for their complete article, “We’re holding Pyongyang to Account,” along with its impressive claim that “the U.S., its allies and the world are united in our pursuit of a denuclearized Korean peninsular.”
Hope for the future … stay tuned!
Then there’s Iran where our leaders have been playing the same failed appeasement game that we pursued with North Korea for 25 years . . .
Hopefully, President Trump also will take a different direction there, beginning with the dismantlement of the terrible unverifiable 2015 Iran deal that released billions of dollars worth of sanctions that had constrained Iran and currently provides a ruse that Iran’s nuclear development programs are under control, even as their testing of ballistic missiles continues.
These recent reports, including in The Hill news reports that are widely available on Capitol Hill, should make clear to our Representatives and Senators that we are confronting a very dangerous situation regarding North Korea.
And as I have repeatedly argued in previous messages, Iran is not far behind North Korea, if at all. And Iran can use the billions of dollars the Obama administration made available to Iran in the terrible 2015 Iran Deal to buy what they don’t already have.
This is a good time to have a conversation with your Representatives and Senators while they are home on their August recess — and send them back to Washington with an earful.
Stay tuned, indeed!
What can you do?
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