John Bolton: EMP Threat Is One Reason ‘We’ve Got to Consider the Military Option Against North Korea First’

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Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 7, 2017:

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about the North Korean nuclear missile crisis, the threat of electromagnetic pulse attack, China’s relationship with the United States, and the latest news from the United Nations.

Bolton described North Korea as “a 25 million-person prison camp.”

“While I think the leadership might be willing to ‘eat grass’ before giving up their way of life, if anybody bothered to ask the people, I think you’d get a very different answer,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment that North Koreans would rather eat grass than give up their nuclear weapons.

“They are cut off from the rest of the world by the design of their government. Back in the day, when radios were the only way people could learn about the outside world, you could buy a radio in North Korea. It only had one channel on it,” he recalled.

“I think, increasingly, the people of North Korea – we know this from defectors who come out, make their way through China down to Southeast Asia, and then back to South Korea – that they’re increasingly aware that they could have a different kind of life and that the dictatorship of the Kim family really has deprived them of anything like a normal life,” he said.

“This is kind of a laboratory study. You don’t get this around the world. It’s very rare to have a North Korea and a South Korea. I think word has gotten into North Korea that life in South Korea is very different,” he said.

Bolton said China particularly fears the consequences of the Kim regime collapsing.

“Although the dictatorship in North Korea looks very strong, like many authoritarian governments, it’s really kind of like a rotten door frame. If you kick it hard enough, it would come down,” he judged.

“I don’t want to see the United States have to use military force against the North Korean nuclear weapons program any more than anybody else, but I also don’t intend to allow America to be vulnerable to it as far as the eye can see, once they are able to hit any target in the continental United States,” Bolton said of his policy recommendations to resolve the crisis.

“I think we’ve got to go to China,” he advised. “I think you can see, increasingly, the Chinese recognizing North Korea is an ugly piece of baggage. China has got to apply the pressure that they uniquely have.”

“My view is the best thing to do is reunite the peninsula, effectively under South Korea, but I would take as a second-best solution China knocking off the Kim family in and putting in someone else,” he said.

“I think North Korea is much like East Germany: when the Communist rule goes, its life expectancy goes with it. It would be better just to eliminate North Korea entirely by merging it with South Korea. That’s the natural course of history. Failing that, getting rid of the current dictatorship would at least be a step forward,” said Bolton.

Bolton predicted the U.S. was “unlikely to get a meaningful oil sanction against North Korea” from the U.N. Security Council.

“Let’s say they do, just hypothetically. Do you think Iran is going to let North Korea fall?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Iran couldn’t care less about U.N. sanctions. That’s why this fascination with sanctions really is not just ineffective; it’s misleading and dangerous because it gives a lot of people – especially in Congress – the kind of warm and fuzzy feeling that they’re dealing with the North Korean threat, when, in fact, they’re not.”

As for China, widely seen as the key to solving the North Korean problem, Bolton said they are “pursuing a mercantilist trade policy in a free trade organization like the WTO.” He added, “And I think for years we haven’t called them out on it.”

“There’s no doubt they’re in massive violation. We could spend hours talking about it. But the notion that the United States can exert economic pressure on China, to, in turn exert economic pressure on North Korea, I think is doomed to failure,” he anticipated.

“Not that it’s not a worthwhile idea, but imagine this: Let’s say you impose really powerful sanctions on China – not pinprick sanctions, sanctioning Bank X or Bank Y. Let’s just say we’re going to exclude the Chinese banking system from the United States to get their attention. Within minutes of that being announced, the chairman of Goldman Sachs, the chairman of JP Morgan, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, the chairman of Citibank are going to be on the phone to Steve Mnuchin, and probably the president himself,” said Bolton.

“Amazon, Facebook, Google – all these people are saying, ‘You’re taking that market away from us!’ That’s what people have to understand about sanctions. To impose pain – and that’s what we’re talking about, pain – on a big economy like China, you’ve got to be willing to bear some corresponding amount of pain in our economy. America’s business leadership, I am sorry to say, isn’t into pain,” he said.

Bolton viewed China’s latest crackdown on dissent, rife with human rights violations, as evidence that President Xi Jinping “for years, has been planning, with many allies in the Chinese Communist Party, a re-authoritarianization of the government there.”

“Increased political control, increased economic control – it may not be in strict compliance with Marxist ideology, but it’s classic authoritarianism,” he noted. “Westerners have just been goo-goo over Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts, thinking, ‘Oh, how wonderful this is’ – not realizing that since the entire governmental system in China is fundamentally corrupt, this was a way for Xi Jinping to go after his political enemies because you can pick and choose who you’re going to prosecute for corruption.”

“We’ve been pursuing, I think, a very misguided policy on China, strategically and economically, for decades. The human rights piece, honestly, it’s been there that entire time. Look at what China’s doing to Tibet. I’m not overstating this: it’s a kind of cultural genocide. What has the United States said about it in the last 20 or 25 years? Almost nothing,” he observed.

Marlow asked for Bolton’s opinion of the electromagnetic pulse attack threat from North Korea, a permutation of nuclear terrorism about which analysts such as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, another frequent Breitbart News Radio guest, long warned.

“It absolutely is a threat,” Bolton replied. “A high-altitude nuclear detonation that could bring down a substantial part of the electrical grid of the United States, at least in particular geographic regions, would have a huge impact on us.”

“It’s one of the things people have said, ‘Well, North Korea doesn’t have the range in its missiles, it doesn’t have the thermonuclear capacity, it doesn’t have the reentry vehicle, and it doesn’t have the guidance systems. EMP, you don’t need really precise guidance systems. If you just detonate something, let’s say, over the West Coast of the United States, the EMP effects could be significant,” he explained.

“It ties into the strategic question of what happens if North Korea fires a nuclear weapon at the United States. People have said, ‘Look, North Korea is never going to commit suicide. They would never do that.’ Well, what if the attack is not obliterating Los Angeles? What if it’s an EMP attack, where actual destruction on the ground from the blast itself is minimal, maybe no casualties at all, but the knock-on effects of impairing the electrical grid could be very substantial? What do you do then?” he asked.

Bolton said there was no good answer to that question, which is “why we’ve got to consider the military option against North Korea first.”

“It’s why I wrote about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous statement made in a fireside chat on September the 11th, 1941 – 60 years to the day before our 9/11 – when he said, ‘When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until it has struck before you crush it,’” Bolton recalled.

“People say, ‘But my goodness, if you use a military option, terrible things will happen on the Korean Peninsula,’” he continued. “And I agree that this is an enormous concern, and we would have to do everything possible to mitigate that. But these same people also say, ‘Well, of course, if North Korea attacked the United States, then we should respond with devastating force,’ which would likely have the same consequences in South Korea.”

“So if you’re with me this far, what is the difference between their position and mine? It’s their insistence that before we strike, there have to be dead Americans. I reject that,” he declared.

Marlow asked Bolton about Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s sudden refusal to attend a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, contrary to previous commitments.

“One of the proudest moments in my government career was in 2006, voting against the creation of the new U.N. Human Rights Council,” Bolton replied. “It was a mistake, and it was a wise decision by President Bush to vote against it. It was a wise decision to stay off the Human Rights Council.”

“We should withdraw from it now,” he advised. “I’m very surprised the Trump administration hasn’t withdrawn. It’s an outfit with no legitimacy. It’s our presence that gives it what little legitimacy it has. We should get off of it.”

“Let me make one other point if I could, coming back to the nuclear stuff: Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of Israel destroying a nuclear reactor being built in Syria,” Bolton observed. “Being built by whom? Being built by North Koreans. Why did the North Koreans build a nuclear reactor in Syria? Was it because of their close cultural and historical relationship? Of course not. It was because somebody, quite likely Iran, was trying to hide their illicit activities where they thought nobody was looking.”

“This is the sort of thing that people don’t like to talk about, the connection between Iran and North Korea, but I believe it’s real, and I believe that Israel – which has twice in its history destroyed nuclear projects in hostile states, that one in Syria and in Iraq in 1981 – has shown that if everything else fails, preemptive military force is required to defend your people from nuclear extortion,” he contended.

“It’s terrible that we may be at the last ditch here and that our options are limited, but if you believe that the fundamental duty of the President of the United States is to protect Americans, that option has to be on the table,” said Bolton.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern.

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Korea Nuclear Test Furthers EMP Bomb

North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifts off / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Sept. 6, 2017:

North Korea for the first time this week revealed plans for using its nuclear arms for space-based electronics-disrupting EMP attacks, in addition to direct warhead ground blasts.

The official communist party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, published a report Monday on “the EMP might of nuclear weapons,” outlining an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack produced by detonating a nuclear warhead in space.

“In general, the strong electromagnetic pulse generated from nuclear bomb explosions between 30 kilometers and 100 kilometers [18.6 miles and 62 miles] above the ground can severely impair electronic devices, electric machines, and electromagnetic grids, or destroy electric cables and safety devices,” said the article authored by Kim Songwon, dean of Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang.

“The discovery of the electromagnetic pulse as a source of high yield in the high-altitude nuclear explosion test process has given it recognition as an important strike method,” he stated.

The official discussion by North Korea of plans to conduct EMP strikes will likely fuel debate over the threat. Former CIA Director James Woolsey has said North Korea is capable of orbiting an EMP nuclear weapon in a satellite.

Some liberal arms control advocates have dismissed the EMP threat from Pyongyang as far-fetched, such as arms control advocate Jeffrey Lewis, who in April dismissed the threat of an EMP attack by laughing at a reporter’s question. “This is the favorite nightmare scenario of a small group of very dedicated people,” he told NPR.

Disclosure of North Korea’s intention to use its nuclear force for EMP attacks comes as U.S. intelligence agencies are continuing to analyze the latest underground nuclear test by North Korea on Sept. 3 that the regime said was its first hydrogen bomb explosion.

Senior administration officials said initial assessments of the nuclear blast in northeastern North Korea indicate it was the largest test detonation so far, and much larger than an underground test carried out last year. It was the regime’s sixth nuclear test.

U.S. nuclear technicians have not made a definitive conclusion about the specifics of the device. Specialists are trying to determine if the test involved a hydrogen bomb, as Pyongyang asserted, or a device designed for EMP attack. They are also assessing whether the test used boosted fission technology.

Hydrogen bombs are advanced devices that use a two-stage explosion process to produce a massive explosion. Boosted fission devices are less sophisticated technologically and require more nuclear fuel.

“We’re highly confident this was a test of an advanced nuclear device—and what we’ve seen so far is not inconsistent with North Korea’s claims,” a U.S. intelligence official said.

However, a final conclusion on the type and yield of the blast is not expected for several days. Data from the test is being analyzed by nuclear weapons experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Also, the large explosion—perhaps more than 100 kilotons, or the equivalent of 100 tons of TN—likely produced significant venting of radioactive particles into the air.

Special U.S. intelligence aircraft, including the WC-135 nuclear “sniffer” jets, are conducting flights near the test zone to gather samples of particles from the test.

Kim, the North Korean technical university dean, stated that high-altitude explosions can be conducted in the stratosphere or in space where the blast wave is limited by the lack of air or the thinness of air.

“In explosions occurring at such altitudes, large amounts of electrons are released as a result of ionization reactions of high-energy instant gamma rays and other radioactive rays,” he said. “These electrons form a strong electromagnetic pulse (EMP) through interaction with the geomagnetic field.”

“The detonation would create a strong electric field of 100,000 volts per meter when it approaches the ground and “that is how it destroys communications facilities and electricity grids,” the report said.

The EMP report was published Monday, a day after the same state-run outlet reported on a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to a nuclear weapons facility that also mentioned plans for using nuclear weapons in EMP attacks.

“Our hydrogen bomb—whose power as a nuclear bomb can be adjusted at will from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons according to the targets of strike—is a multifunctional thermonuclear warhead which not only has enormous lethality and destructibility, but also can even carry out super-powerful EMP attack over an expansive area through detonation at high altitudes according to strategic goals,” the report said.

EMP was discovered by the U.S. military during above ground nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean during the 1960s.

EMP waves produced from nuclear tests were found to disrupt electronics throughout areas up to 1,000 miles from the center of the blast.

Peter Pry, a former CIA analyst who has been active in urging greater defenses against EMP attack, said a congressional commission on EMP has been warning for years about the North Korean EMP threat.

“EMP attack, by blacking-out the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, could kill far more people than nuclear blasting a city,” Pry said.

According to Pry, the Congressional EMP Commission warned that nationwide blackout and subsequent disruption from an EMP strike could kill 90 percent of the U.S. population through starvation, disease, and societal chaos.

“North Korea knows this, which is why state media describes their new nuclear warhead as capable of both blasting cities and EMP,” he said.

William R. Graham, chairman of the commission, also has warned that North Korea’s two satellites orbiting over the U.S. could be armed with EMP weapons and detonated over the United States or U.S. allies.

Pry said despite the increasing danger from EMP, the commission will cease functioning Sept. 20 unless its charter is renewed.

“No one at the Pentagon or DHS has asked for the EMP commission to be extended,” he said, adding that the commission has produced the best expertise on the threat.

The commission has urged the United States to harden the nation’s electric grid and other critical infrastructure against EMP attack. But those efforts have been thwarted as the result of lobbying from the electric power industry that opposes the cost of expensive upgrades and stockpiling of transformers and other equipment.

In other developments related to North Korea, U.S. officials also said there are signs North Korea is preparing to conduct another long-range missile test. Two earlier long-range missile tests demonstrated new strike capabilities.

South Korean press reports said the next ICBM test could be launched over the Pacific and timed to a North Korean anniversary marking the communist state’s founding on Sept. 9.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that in response to the nuclear test the United States will sell advanced arms to both South Korea and Japan as part of its policy of seeking to pressure the Pyongyang regime into giving up its nuclear arms.

“I am allowing Japan and South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States,” Trump said.

The president also said tougher economic sanctions are being considered. “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea,” he said Sunday.

Trump also criticized China for failing to rein in its ally. “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” he said.

China maintains a defense alliance with North Korea that requires defending Pyongyang from any attack. China also provides some 90 percent of North Korea’s trade.

The Trump administration recently imposed sanctions on Chinese and Russian entities supporting North Korea’s arms programs. But the sanctions did not hit a Chinese company known to have supplied mobile missile launchers to the North Koreans for its long-range missiles.

Among the options being considered are an oil embargo on North Korea that would severely cripple the country’s ability to provide energy resources. Additional sanctions also could target Chinese banks that have been working covertly with North Korea.

South Korea also is considering requesting that the United States return stockpiles of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the country. The weapons were withdrawn in the early 1990s.

Another step announced by the administration is the loosening of restrictions on the payload weight of missile warheads, agreeing not to oppose Seoul’s plan to build bigger warheads for its short-range missiles.

South Korea had sought U.S. approval for exceeding both the range and payload limits for missiles under informal international Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines.

The MTCR limits signatories from building missiles with ranges greater than 186 miles and with warheads larger than 1,100 pounds.

In Japan, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tuesday initial assessments indicate North Korea may have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, as the regime claimed.

Nuclear experts said the basis for early judgments about the nuclear test are based on seismic data.

Initial estimates of the blast registered the explosion as causing a tremor ranging from 5.8 magnitude to 6.1 magnitude on the earthquake scale. Later estimates put the blast at 6.3, indicating a much larger explosion.

David S. Maxwell, a North Korea expert and associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, said he did not think an underground test is a useful way to test an EMP bomb.

“An underground or ground burst has less EMP effects but as I understand it all nuclear explosions create EMP,” he said, noting that during Army training in Europe, troops took down antennas and turned off all electric devices to protect them from a Soviet nuclear strike.

“It was hard back then and it will be even harder now that we are so much more dependent on electrical devices for every aspect of war fighting, and life in general,” he said.

Maxwell said the rapid testing of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles is likely designed to rapidly advance its programs in anticipation of a future negotiated freeze on the programs.

“I think the Kim family regime is banking on Russia and China being able to pressure the U.S. into a freeze, and the regime will agree to that if it believes it possesses a significant nuclear deterrent that it will not give up,” he said.

Also see:

NORTH KOREA’S ULTIMATUM TO AMERICA

What the US response will mean for stability in Asia and beyond.

Front Page Magazine, by Caroline Glick, Sept. 6 2017:

The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited.

In an interview Sunday with Fox News’s Trish Regan, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was asked about the possible repercussions of a US military assault against North Korea for the security of South Korea.

Regan asked, “What are we risking though if we say we’re going to go in with strategic military strength?… Are we going to end up with so many people’s lives gone in South Korea, in Seoul because we make that move?” Bolton responded with brutal honesty.

“Let me ask you this: how do you feel about dead Americans?” In other words, Bolton said that under prevailing conditions, the US faces the painful choice between imperiling its own citizens and imperiling the citizens of an allied nation. And things will only get worse. Bolton warned that if North Korea’s nuclear threat is left unaddressed, US options will only become more problematic and limited in the years to come.

This then brings us to the third lesson of the current round of confrontation between the US and North Korea.

If you appease an enemy on behalf of an ally then you aren’t an ally.

And eventually your alliance become empty of all meaning.

For 25 years, three successive US administrations opted to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear program in large part out of concern for South Korea.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sought to appease North Korea’s aggressive nuclear adventurism because they didn’t believe they had a credible military option to deal with it.

In the 1980s, North Korea developed and deployed a conventional arsenal of bombs and artillery along the demilitarized zone capable of vaporizing Seoul.

Any US military strike against North Korea’s nuclear installation it was and continues to be argued, would cause the destruction of Seoul and the murder of millions of South Koreans.

So US efforts to appease Pyongyang on behalf of Seoul emptied the US-South Korean alliance of meaning. The US can only serve as the protector of its allies, and so assert its great power status in the Pacific and worldwide, if it prevents its allies from being held hostage by its enemies.

And now, not only does the US lack a clear means of defending South Korea, and Japan, America itself is threatened by the criminal regime it demurred from effectively confronting.

Regardless of the means US President Donald Trump decides to use to respond to North Korea’s provocative actions and threats to America’s national security, given the nature of the situation, it is clear that the balance of forces on the ground cannot and will not remain as they have been.

If the US strikes North Korea in a credible manner and successfully diminishes its capacity to physically threaten the US, America will have taken the first step towards rebuilding its alliances in Asia.

On the other hand, if the current round of hostilities does not end with a significant reduction of North Korea’s offensive capabilities, either against the US or its allies, then the US will be hard pressed to maintain its posture as a Pacific power. So long as Pyongyang has the ability to directly threaten the US and its allies, US strategic credibility in East Asia will be shattered.

This then brings us to China.

China has been the main beneficiary of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear aggression and brinksmanship.

This state of affairs was laid bare in a critical way last month.

In mid-August, Trump’s then chief strategist Steve Bannon was preparing a speech Trump was set to deliver that would have effectively declared a trade war against China in retaliation for its predatory trade practices against US companies and technology. The speech was placed in the deep freeze – and Bannon was forced to resign his position – when North Korea threatened to attack the US territory of Guam with nuclear weapons. The US, Trump’s other senior advisers argued, couldn’t declare a trade war against China when it needed China’s help to restrain North Korea.

So by enabling North Korea’s aggression against the US and its allies, China has created a situation where the US has become neutralized as a strategic competitor.

Rather than advance its bilateral interests – like curbing China’s naval aggression in the South China Sea – in its contacts with China, the US is forced into the position of supplicant, begging China to restrain North Korea in order to avert war.

If the US does not act to significantly downgrade North Korea’s offensive capabilities now, when its own territory is being threatened, it is difficult to see how the US will be able to develop an effective strategy for coping with China’s rise as an economic and strategic rival in Asia and beyond. That is, the US’s actions now in response to North Korea’s threat to its national security will determine whether or not the US will be in a position to develop and implement a wider strategy for maintaining its capacity to project its economic and military power in the Pacific in the near and long term.

Finally, part of the considerations that need to inform US action now involve what North Korea’s success in developing a nuclear arsenal under the noses of successive US administrations means for the future of nuclear proliferation.

In all likelihood, unless the North Korean nuclear arsenal is obliterated, Pyongyang’s nuclear triumphalism will precipitate a spasm of nuclear proliferation in Asia and in the Middle East. The implications of this for the US and its allies will be far reaching.

Not only can Japan and South Korea be reasonably expected to develop nuclear arsenals. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other inherently unstable Arab states can be expected to develop or purchase nuclear arsenals in response to concerns over North Korea and its ally Iran with its nuclear weapons program linked to Pyongyang’s.

In other words, if the US does not respond in a strategically profound way to Pyongyang now, it will not only lose its alliance system in Asia, it will see the rapid collapse of its alliance system and superpower status in the Middle East.

Israel, for one, will be imperiled by the sudden diffusion of nuclear power.

Monday morning, North Korea followed up its thermonuclear bomb test with a spate of threats to destroy the United States. These threats are deadly even if North Korea doesn’t attack the US with its nuclear weapons. If the US does not directly defeat North Korea in a clear-cut way now, its position as a superpower in Asia and worldwide will be destroyed and its ability to defend its own citizens will be called into question with increasing frequency and lethality.

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Bolton: ‘Only Diplomatic Option Left Is to End the Regime in N Korea By Effectively Having the South Take It Over’

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North Korean Crisis a Decades-Long Failure of Political Will

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US Must Act on EMP Terror Warnings

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Frank Gaffney: Consequences of North Korean EMP Attack ‘Could Be Truly Nation-Ending’

Also see:

The North Korean Crisis: Immediate Considerations

Real Clear Defense, By Michael J. Del Rosso, Brian Kennedy & Stephen Meyer, August 17, 2017: (H/T John Guandolo)

Whatever respite there may be between North Korea and the United States, make no mistake that the possibilities of a nuclear conflict with North Korea and, by extension, the People’s Republic of China, remain.  As our nation faces this threat, there are very few options to deter this perilous situation. This does not have to be the case. We have an opportunity to remedy long standing vulnerabilities.

Strategic nuclear affairs are poorly understood by the American public and their representatives in Congress. Few know that the condition of our nuclear arsenal is suspect, our missiles defenses are of uncertain effectiveness and coverage, the probability for nuclear deterrence failing is quite high, and our national civil defenses are severely atrophied.

The United States is at this point because members of Congress have relied upon military leaders and defense experts, who over time, seemed driven by political correctness and flawed nuclear deterrence theories. As a matter of policy, the United States has decided to leave the American people vulnerable to missile attack and to rely, instead, on the threat of nuclear retaliation. This policy was continued at the same time both the Russians and Chinese proliferated nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to the likes of Iran and North Korea and built or are building their own missile defenses.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have presided over the systemic national security failure to address the threat of ballistic missile attack that now confronts President Trump. This failure presents an existential threat to the United States that must be immediately addressed.

A factual threat analysis will show that the United States should:

  1. Introduce a robust and more certain, multi-tier, national missile defense capability that includes introducing both Space-Based and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV)-based Boost Phase Interceptors (BPI) which can be rapidly developed using existing, mature technologies. Unlike existing ballistic missile defense systems, BPIs are less expensive and have a higher kill probability, targeting missiles in the most vulnerable phases of flight. Why deploy both basing schemes? Because we have committed adversaries who threaten the further existence of the Republic and it is about time America respond proportionately.
  2. Harden our critical infrastructure to the effects of a nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.
  3. Modernize our nuclear triad for enhance deterrence.
  4. Reintroduce national civil defense down to the community, household, and individual level. This initiative should be instituted immediately no matter what other courses of action are decided upon. It is immoral not to alert the U.S. population of the probability and severity of the risks they face and educate them on how to mitigate that risk. A prepared population adds to our overall deterrence.
  5. Re-evaluate the responsible executive branch agencies’ decision-making processes and methodologies by which risks from threats and hazards are rank-prioritized and recommendations for risk-proportionate mitigation and response activities generated.

The Threat

Russia and the People’s Republic of China both possess large arsenals of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. According to defectors, these warheads are currently targeting the major cities of the United States and that of our allies in Europe, Asia, and Israel. The revolution in precision guidance gives these weapons decapitating, first-strike thermonuclear capabilities against our nuclear forces. For more than 20 years both the Russians and the Chinese have been modernizing the lethality of their warheads and expanding their arsenals.

Of concern are nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP) devices that detonate at 100 to 150 km altitude.  Indeed, Kim Jong-un’s threat of final doom is likely based on a single NEMP.  A single NEMP permanently destroys power and communication infrastructures over many hundreds of miles and does not require either re-entry or precision guidance.

We must assume that North Korea possesses NEMP devices.

In 1995 the Russian military think tank that serves the Russian General Staff, known as INOBIS, issued a paper recommending that Russia deliberately proliferate missile and nuclear weapon technology to nations hostile to the United States.  The rationale was that nuclear proliferation would balance growing U.S. power, and thwart Washington’s efforts to establish a New World Order dominated by America.

In 2004 Russian flag officers gave testimony to the U.S. Congressional EMP Commission that super EMP weapon technology in fact “leaked” to North Korea; and it is being developed with help from Russia, China, Pakistan and elsewhere.

In 2013 South Korea’s intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said in a report to parliament that North Korea was using Russian technology to develop electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons aimed at destroying military electronic equipment south of the border.

We also must assume that North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile is now capable of attacking the United States with an NEMP device.

Additionally, North Korea has two satellites, KMS 3-2 and KMS 4, which are presently orbiting at an altitude of 300 miles. Their trajectories put them over the continental U.S. daily. Their payloads may be NEMP devices waiting to be used. Erring on the side of caution, consideration should be given to shoot them down preemptively so that the debris field falls upon a benign area of the earth, with WC-135C Constant Phoenix “sniffer” aircraft on the ready to sample the debris paths for radiological indications of the payloads.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the flawed agreement with the Obama administration, continues to pursue the building of nuclear warhead technology.  It is very likely that they already possess a handful of nuclear warheads acquired from Russia, China, North Korea or Pakistan.  The quality and reliability of these warheads are questionable, and their numbers are insufficient for power projection. For this reason, Iran is seeking to build nuclear warheads. It is believed every nuclear test conducted in North Korea has included Iranian scientists.

Iranian nuclear war fighting doctrine scenarios include the use of their Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile launched from a freighter ship. Twice during the 1990s, the Iranians conducted successful tests from a barge in the Caspian Sea where they launched such a missile. In both tests, the warheads exploded in the high atmosphere simulating an electromagnetic pulse attack.

If the Iranians can deploy the right kind of nuclear warhead on such a missile, and if they are able to detonate one over a region of the United States, they could destroy some or all of the electric and electronic infrastructure of the United States.  Such a nuclear explosion in the high atmosphere destroys both critical microelectronics and the large transformers that distribute electric power through the three major electric grids of the United States.

A highly successful EMP attack could result in a sovereignty ending event. A less successful attack could mean the destruction of the U.S. economy. Because the missile was launched from a ship, attribution of the culprit may not be immediately possible.  If an adversary were to launch an EMP weaponized missile from a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, not only are there no missile defense assets in place to defend against it, we even lack southern-facing radar to detect such a launch.

Finally, the Russians and the Chinese, in addition to their own nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, have spent decades developing their surrogates, Iran and North Korea, into existential, nuclear threats to the United States and the West. They have given them material and technical support and may have even transferred nuclear warheads to them directly.

The purpose of these actors’ nuclear arsenals is to destroy the civilian population of the United States, exert influence over a U.S. President with nuclear blackmail, and check the strategic capabilities of the United States.

Re-introduce Civil Defense

It should be something of a scandal that we have left the people of the United States undefended from a nuclear attack. Even more so because the Russians have their own national missile defense, however crude, it may be, and the Chinese are building their own missile defense as well. Both Russia and China believe that if war comes, they should be able to win. In October 2016, Russia performed a three-day nuclear war training exercise in which 40 million people engaged in civil defense drills. China also maintains extensive public shelters for nuclear war protection.

In contrast, national Civil Defense capabilities no longer exist in the United States. The logic behind abandoning Civil Defense, explained in declassified Presidential Decision Memoranda from the Kennedy administration, might best be described as immoral; politicians thought it would be “destabilizing” for Americans to be stronger and more survivable than the Soviets.  In the early decades of the Cold War, billions of dollars were spent understanding how to mitigate nuclear weapons effects. For the past several months the state of Hawaii has started to reintroduce this knowledge. The rest of the nation should follow suit, immediately, including community, household, and individual resiliency and preparedness. Leadership and informed citizens are primarily all that is needed. Civil Defense is a very cost-effective means of mitigating nuclear weapons effects and saving millions of American lives. It also contributes to America’s overall deterrence.

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Michael Del Rosso is Vice President of the American Strategy Group

Brian T. Kennedy is President of the American Strategy Group

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute

Stop paying ransom: How to turn the tables on North Korea

Japanese Defense Ministry deploys PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) interceptor system at Camp Kaitaichi in Hiroshimai Prefecture on Aug. 12, 2017| Satoshi Oga | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz,  Aug.14, 2017:

“Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute

The most sacred job of the federal government – directly protecting the lives of the entire country from an existential threat – is evidently controversial.

The political cartel and the medial would have you believe that every far-flung foreign policy engagement and ill-fated cronyist welfare program is the highest order of the federal government, yet protecting America from a genocidal regime that has  directly threatened us with nuclear weapons is beyond the pale.

On Friday, the AP tweeted the following:

So not only have the media global elites publicly telegraphed the message to North Korea that the U.S. may never respond with force, the U.S. could take missile defense off the table.

What’s truly astounding is that we are sending troops to referee Islamic civil wars that have no strategic interest to us in countries that cannot touch us with a Navy, Air Force, or ICBMs … and the media doesn’t give a hoot. God knows what we are doing in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, aside from supporting one terror faction in one theater that we are fighting in the next (Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, for example), but nobody blinks an eye.

We have expended trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the national resolve and appetite for war on aimless civil wars rather than addressing the core threat to our homeland, which is immigration, Muslim Brotherhood subversion, etc. Now, there is no appetite left to use our military when it is actually needed.

Maybe I was too naive, but I thought once it became clear North Korea had the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads to be placed on long-range missiles (a reality that was covered up during Obama’s tenure), politics would end and national resolve would unite behind an effort to defend America at all costs. Yet, it’s become clear that will never happen.

Even if one (wrongly) believes there is no military solution, why in the world would we telegraph such weakness to the enemy and do so with such conviction? Every news headline blowing up my iPhone alerts is full of such servile sayings as “The rush to avoid a catastrophic war,” “How North Korea can win.”

What exactly is their solution other than continuing the same obsequious ransom payments that led to North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons in the first place and replicate the same failed model in Iran? Indeed, the only military option the government willing to put on the table is sex-change operations and hormone therapy. Take that, Kim Jong Un!

In reality, there is a lot we can do, and it begins by actually recognizing our strengths and understanding the vulnerabilities of North Korea and China. It also begins by not self-immolating and telegraphing weakness that incentivizes more bad behavior from North Korea and troublemaking by China.

Change of posture: This is actually one area where Trump’s tweets are very helpful. The reason we got to this juncture is because of 24 years of weakness in which three administrations took military options off the table or even the use of aggressive soft power. We paid them off and refused to hold them accountable.

Thus, with no fear of reprisal, China and North Korea could continue to extort us. By emphatically showing that we will do what it takes to defend our interests and that regime change is a real possibility, China will come to the bargaining table.

The Chinese are terrified of a military option because they don’t want the refugee crisis on their hands. Thus, those who publicly despair of military and soft-power options and extol the virtues of diplomacy are ensuring there is no diplomacy. The military option, or the perception of it, is the only thing that will force diplomacy. Peace through strength.

Missile defense: Learning a lesson from Reagan’s success, the best offense is also a good defense – by showing Kim Jong Un that we can shoot down his missiles. The ballistic missile defense program has already been a success with THAAD and needs a little more development.  The president should demand an immediate increase in funding of advanced missile defense in the upcoming budget bill.

There’s no reason we should continue spending so much money on Middle East sink holes, fighting for and arming the Lebanese army (an arm of Hezbollah), the Syrian rebels, and Shia militias in Iraq. All those funds should be redirected for missile defense. The success of this program makes the military option extremely viable.

Further, coupled with beefed up missile defense, all available nuclear assets should be deployed to the aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and submarines around Guam and closer to the Korean Peninsula.

Shoot down North Korea’s test missiles: Yes, the next time Kim plays with his toys and tests a missile, we should shoot it down. THAAD has successfullyintercepted missiles in all 15 tests conducted by the military. We should place more of these installations around South Korea and Japan, in addition to beefing up the naval presence.

End the Iran deal: Iran and North Korea are two peas in a pod. Ending the Iran deal and putting the screws to the Islamic Republic hurts North Korea. If nothing else, learning the lesson of the failed appeasement of North Korea should push Trump off the fence on Iran so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

As my friend George Rasley explained in detail, we can assume that whatever North Korea has, Iran will obtain because they are working together. Except, given that Iran is governed by an Islamic ideology, there is even less of a deterrent against their suicidal tendencies than North Korea.

To look at the outcome of the North Korean appeasement and not change course immediately in Iran is an exercise in self-immolation.

Ask Congress for Authorization of Use of Force (AUMF): “Locked and loaded” is exactly the strategy we need. Congress has been debating and AUMF over the Middle East for months. North Korea, on the other hand, had directly threatened our country, and yet we’ve never signaled any support for a military option.

Were Congress to preemptively authorize use of force when the president feels it necessary to use, it would send such a strong signal that in itself would be the only avenue to force the diplomatic solution the Left claims to support.

Remember, unlike the Iranians who believe they will enjoy 72 virgins in the next world, the North Korean leaders don’t believe in an afterlife. They are enjoying their virgins and Chivas Regal here on Earth and are not in a rush to end it. It’s very likely that by signaling our intent to impel regime change, Kim Jong Un’s military leadership will begin unraveling.

This is why it’s so irresponsible for Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson to so emphatically and publicly reject regime change.

Hold China accountable: North Korea is essentially a client-state of China and gets much of their economic lifeline from the communist regime. In order to get tough on North Korea, we must end the decades-long appeasement of China, which is a strategic threat to us in their own right. We must double down on our alliance and arm’s deals with Taiwan and challenge China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Also, just the mere threat to arm Japan is the biggest leverage imaginable. The memory of the Nanking Massacre at the hands of the Japanese is still consuming China with fear and rage. Time to play hardball.

Freeze the regime’s global assets and investments: In addition to putting real pressure on China, freezing other foreign investments will inhibit North Korea’s ability to build its nuclear and ballistic capabilities.

As noted North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol advises, “The United States must use its resources, personnel, and willing allies to squeeze North Korea’s Mafia-like illicit financial networks in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Africa and yes, China. This would, put strong pressure on the lifeline for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs.”

Say no to further involvement in Islamic civil wars: Our involvement in endless Islamic civil wars (while bringing the actual problem to our shores through immigration and empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood) has depleted our military, our budget, and our national resolve to confront real threats.

The North Korea crisis should strengthen the president’s resolve against further involvement in full blown nation-building in the Middle East so that our military can be preserved for true conventional warfare that, unlike the Islamic civil wars, directly threatens our territories and homeland.

The fight against jihad should mainly be dealt with through shutting down immigration, ending Muslim Brotherhood subversion, using soft power against Qatar and Turkey and other funders of global terror, and reversing course on Iran. Let’s counter terrorism with counter-terrorism measures; counter state threats with the military.

John McCain’s call for doubling down on Afghanistan should be rejected; it makes no sense to bog down our military in these quagmires now that North Korea poses the greatest conventional and nuclear threat. Also, our endless entanglement in the Middle East is partly what emboldens China and North Korea, because they know it has sapped our military and national resolve to deal with the Pacific theater.

The question for President Trump boils down to one principle: Will we continue the strategy of appeasement and ransom-paying that has gotten us to this position, or will we turn the tables and assert our own leverage using every option on the table? The choice is his so long as he assembles a Cabinet that actually shares his worldview.

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.

Also see:

What the Crisis Means: North Korea, Nukes and Islamists

A North Korean military parade (Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug.  9, 2017:

North Korea is officially a communist, Stalinist dictatorship, but that hasn’t stopped it from crossing the ideological divide to embrace Islamist regimes and, reportedly, even jihadist groups. The latest crisis between North Korea and the U.S. appears separate from the war with Islamism, but there are 10 ways it overlaps.

The U.S. and allied intelligence services now believe North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads to fit onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has the potentially up to 60 nuclear weapons.

This was seen as an undeclared “red line” and prompted President Trump to threaten to bring “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea’s verbal threats continue; a benchmark North Korea immediately crossed by announcing it was considering a nuclear strike on the U.S. territory of Guam, where 6,000 U.S. troops are stationed. Another 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea and 49,000 in Japan.

North Korea threatened to attack Guam in 2013 and its bombastic rhetoric is practically a daily occurrence, but North Korea’s aggressive attacks have increased in recent years including sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, an artillery barrage on a South Korean island that same year, a cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and a bold assassination of a political rival in a Malaysian airport using the VX biological weapon earlier this year.

 

  • The Iranian and North Korean WMD programs should be seen as a single entity.We must now assume that Iran likewise has the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads onto ICBMs.Iran and North Korea have shared virtually everything when it comes to ballistic missile and nuclear technology. One Iranian opposition group claimed that Iran continued its nuclear program in spite of the nuclear deal by simply outsourcing it to North Korea. The nuclear and missile tests are widely seen as being on done on behalf of Iran with Iranian scientists on the scene for their occurrences.Both North Korea and Iran helped the Syrian regime pursue nuclear weapons, resulting in the Israeli airstrike on Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor in 2007. Various reports indicate that Syria’s nuclear program continued thereafter, albeit on a smaller scale.
  • North Korea’s Links to Hamas, Hezbollah and reportedly Al-Qaeda-tied terrorists in the Philippines.In 2003, the government of the Philippines said that it captured documents showing that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist group that has had a relationship with Al-Qaeda in the past, paid $2 million to North Korea for guns, ammunition and grenades and was looking to buy mini-submarines. Another sale was reported in 2005 of 10,000 rifles.In 2006, a federal judge ruled that North Korea is liable for damages caused to American-Israeli citizens due to its material support for Hezbollah. Iran sponsored North Korean assistance to help the terrorist group by providing rockets and missiles and guidance on building its sophisticated network of tunnels and bunkers. It said that Hezbollah terrorists have been traveling to North Korea for advanced training since the late 1980s.In 2009, the UAE intercepted over 2,000 detonators for Hamas’ 122mm Grad rockets and associated equipment. Later that year, Israel intercepted 35 tons of rockets, RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and equipment for surface-to-air missiles from North Korea to Iran for delivery to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups in Thailand.In 2014, it was reported that Hamas was negotiating an arms deal with North Korea worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for missiles and communications equipment and a down payment had already been made. It is strongly suspected that North Korea helped Hamas build its sophisticated tunnel system that was used to attack Israeli civilians and wage war in 2014 against the Israeli military.The Hamas terrorist group openly thanked North Korea for its political support against Israel this year. The North Korean regime (DPRK) pledged to “mercilessly punish” Israel for its leaders’ accurate description of the ruling leader as a “crazy.” The DPRK said it “fully supports” the Palestinian jihad to have an independent country and to seize Jerusalem, a vague statement that seems to imply material support.We should expect such sales to increase as sanctions force the North Korean regime to look for more revenue, as well as ways to retaliate against the U.S. and its allies. The North Korean regime has no problem selling arms to Islamists and is not a target of the jihadists, so we shouldn’t be surprised if North Korea goes so far as to directly sell weapons and expertise to groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
  • North Korea has threatened to sell nuclear weapons to other countries and even international terrorist groups. It now has up to 60 nuclear weapons, a number that could grow to 100 by 2020.In 2005, North Korea threatened to sell its nuclear weapons to terrorist groups “if driven into a corner.”North Korea has a surplus of nuclear weapons. It can afford to sell off a few if it feels confident that U.S. intelligence will be unable to identify and intercept the shipment; a fair assumption given our recent underestimations of their capabilities.Past customers for Iranian missiles and arms include Iran and its puppet Assad regime in Syria; Yemen, which is now working with Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood; Pakistan; Eritrea, which has supported Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia; the Somali government; Cuba and possibly Venezuela.  There are suspicions that Turkey is looking to build nuclear weapons, as an imam close to President Erdogan is encouraging this.
  • Joint cyber warfare programs with Iran.Both Iran and North Korea have launched cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies with minimal consequences. There is strong evidence that the two rogue states’ programs are interconnected and they are even launching joint cyber attacks together.
  • Radical Islam will seep into an unstable North Korea.As soon as a closed society begins opening up, the promoters of Islamism get to work. A relevant example is how Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are in a mad dash to lead the Muslim community in Cuba.In 2010, Pew estimated there are 3,000 Muslims in North Korea, a 300% increase from 1990. It projects that number will stay about the same until at least 2030, but that is doubtful as globalization inevitably penetrates North Korea and exposes more citizens to Islam.The most jihad-prone forms of Islam in North Korea are already leading the way. In 2013, North Korea allowed Iran to build the country’s first mosque, located at the Iranian embassy.The extreme anti-Americanism and anti-democracy thought that is instilled in the population means this Muslim population will probably be inclined towards radicalism.
  • Regime instability will be a gold mine for terrorists, criminals and rogue states.The regime is bound to become more unstable over time and that could increase as international tension rises and the U.S. potentially tries to undermine Kim Jong-Un. North Korea is armed to the teeth with deadly expertise, conventional weapons and WMDs, all of which will be sold off by their hungry protectors or abandoned in the event of extreme upheaval.All kinds of black market criminals, terrorists and governments will be trying to snatch up whatever they can. For Islamists, they will look to the Muslim population for logistical support. Iranian operatives are already in the country, as may be Hezbollah terrorists.ISIS is on the rise in the Philippines, the Islamic terror threat is increasing in South Korea and it’s only a matter of time before China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province becomes a jihadist front. North Korea is isolated now, but don’t assume that Islamists won’t be able to enter the country and make contact with its black market as the regime becomes unstable.
  • Reported plans for a two-front war by Iran, Syria and North Korea.There have been intelligence reports since the early 1990s indicating that Iran, Syria and North Korea had a deal to force the U.S. into a two-front war if any one of them came into military conflict with America. Since then, these countries have only grown stronger, we have grown weaker, and their friendships have grown tighter.Of course, we do not know if such an agreement exists today and we also do not know if they are loyal enough to honor it if it exists. However, the reported historical precedent must be taken into account and it is certain that Iran, Syria and North Korea will at least take limited measures to assist each other in the event of military conflict. And if Iran and North Korea have aspirations to commit aggression, there’s no better time to act than when the U.S. is preoccupied on another front.
  • Bogging down the U.S.If the situation escalates, then the U.S. military—already suffering from the sequestration—will be hard pressed for resources to maintain its operations against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, not to mention more limited efforts in places like Yemen, Libya and the Philippines.
  • North Korean Terrorists Could Target U.S. SoilIt is not out of the realm of possibility that North Korea will try to launch saboteur/terrorist attacks on American soil, particularly against those seeking to undermine Kim Jong-Un.Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un used two assassins to murder a political rival using the VX biological weapon in a Malaysian airport. Think about how much of an escalation that is: A biological terrorist attack inside an airport in a foreign country. That means North Korea has loyal operatives who can sneak such deadly substances into other countries and are willing to risk their lives to commit murder on Kim Jong-Un’s behalf.And the target was another North Korean from the top of society. Such operatives would have even less qualms about targeting Americans.North Korea could collaborate with Islamist terrorists or criminal elements for an attack in America. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps hoped to hide behind Mexican drug cartel members in its plan to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. by blowing up a diner.
  • The Worst of All Scenarios: EMP Watch this Clarion Project short film from 2012 about the threat posed by a potential Electro-Magnetic Pulse attack by Iran. North Korea has the same capability. A top expert on nuclear weapons and EMPs, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, has been sounding the alarm that he believes North Korea is actually practicing carrying out such an attack on the U.S.Should that happen and the attack succeed, North Korea will cripple the U.S. and perhaps win its war against America. And even if the U.S. destroyed North Korea in response, the jihadists will have won their war against America as the country struggles to survive as Islamists rampage across the planet.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

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North Korea discussion begins at 2:22 in video:

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Fred Fleitz:

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North Korea’s Fireworks

This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea’s KRT on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in North Korea’s northwest. (KRT via AP Video)

PJ Media, by Claudia Rosett, July 4, 2017:

While Americans were celebrating Independence Day, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, with a potential range that some experts estimate could reach the United States. As The Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial headlined “The North Korean Missile Crisis“:

Tuesday’s missile, dubbed the Hwasong-14, has an estimated range of 6,700 kilometers, which puts Alaska within range. America’s lower 48 states may still be out of reach, but the test shows the North has overcome most of the obstacles to a long-range missile.

Enough, already. There is no safe way to end the North Korean menace, but the threats from Kim Jong Un’s regime are amplifying at a clip that suggests it is even more dangerous to allow the Kim regime to carry on. While the world has watched, for years — and while the United Nations Security Council has passed one sanctions resolution after another — North Korea has not only been carrying out ballistic missile and nuclear tests, but enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium to amass ever more bomb fuel. As the Journal editorial also notes, North Korea by now “has an estimated 20 nuclear warheads as well as chemical and biological weapons.”

The threat is not solely that North Korea — well versed in shakedown rackets — could target the U.S. with nuclear-tipped ICBMs, or that North Korea can add nuclear weapons to the massive arsenal with which it has long threatened Seoul.

A further danger is that North Korea could proliferate its advancing nuclear missile technology, or even the weapons themselves, to other rogue states, such as Iran — with which Pyongyang has trafficked and cooperated for decades in missile development, and according to some press accounts (please see my discussion of reporting by Douglas Frantz), in nuclear weapons development as well.

The Pyongyang regime was part of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network, supplied taboo nuclear-related materials to Qaddafi’s Libya, and has a record of proliferating nuclear technology (the clandestine Al-Kibar reactor built with North Korean help in Syria destroyed by a 2007 Israeli air strike). It is alarmingly plausible that when Pyongyang brags up its missile and nuclear tests, the global headlines double as North Korean advertising to actors around the globe who might be interested in North Korea’s illicit wares.

A further danger, as long as the Kim regime survives, is that North Korea is setting an example all too likely to encourage other countries to pursue nuclear weapons — whether in self-defense (Japan comes right to mind) or for their own predatory purposes (for instance, Iran). Beyond that, North Korea has been setting an increasingly dangerous example worldwide, for years, of just how far a predatory regime can push the envelope of any civilized world order — and get away with it. If impoverished and bizarre North Korea, with its military and nuclear games of chicken, can force the U.S. to repeatedly blink, what ambitions might that encourage in Moscow and Beijing?

After this July 4th North Korean ICBM display, the temptation for the Trump administration will be to fall back on the standard menu of U.S. responses. These have been employed variously by three presidents, stretching back well over 20 years, to the days when the prospect of North Korea producing even a single nuclear bomb, with no functional vehicle for delivery, was considered a crisis.

These stock responses boil down to negotiations and a deal (Clinton); sanctions, more sanctions, and yet more sanctions, leading to negotiations and a deal (Bush); and sanctions, and yet more sanctions, plus a White House shrug, packaged under the fancy but meaningless label of “strategic patience” (Obama).

None of these responses (or in Obama’s case, pseudo-responses) have stopped North Korea’s nuclear missile program, nor have they made a dent in the Kim dynasty’s monstrous totalitarian grip on North Korea. Instead, what these policies — or in Obama’s case, non-policies — have achieved is to allow each of three previous American presidents, in turn, to delay the day of a high-noon showdown with North Korea, passing along the growing problem to his successor. (If you google “kick the can down the road” and “North Korea,” you’ll pull up well over one million hits).

With each kick of the can, the dangers posed by North Korea have grown worse. Deals with North Korea’s Kim regime don’t work. North Korea cheats and carries on. The Kim regime’s totalitarian control over North Korea means that verification and enforcement become impossible, while American diplomats and politicians — who become invested in such deals — are effectively left, at least for a while, running cover for Pyongyang while they try to smooth over their own failures.

Obama’s “strategic patience” was a disaster, for which he owed Trump, and the American public, not just the warning he gave about North Korea as he left office, but a profound apology for dumping on his successor a threat grown dramatically worse during his eight years in the White House. On Obama’s watch, North Korea racked up a record number of ballistic missile tests, plus four of its five nuclear tests to date — and has for some time been visibly prepared to carry out a sixth.

Trump did not create this horror. But he did inherit a scene in which his predecessors have run out the clock.

What to do? America has the firepower to obliterate Kim’s regime, but has so far declined to use it, not least because Kim holds Seoul hostage to North Korea’s guns. Defense Secretary James Mattis has warned that a hot war with North Korea could be “catastrophic.”

Nor is China likely to bail out the U.S. and its democratic allies. Revealed preference, over decades, says that while China might be happy to cash in on hosting yet more useless negotiations, China doesn’t really mind North Korea making nuclear missiles to bedevil the U.S. and its allies, and China — which has been pursuing its own confrontations with the U.S. in the South China Sea — won’t help solve this.

By the same token, yet more sanctions might count as action in Washington and at the UN in New York. But what’s the endgame? In response to North Korea’s ICBM launch, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has put out a press statement calling for “global action” and saying the U.S. will go to the UN Security Council seeking “stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.” If the aim is to alter the character of the Pyongyang regime, such that Kim genuinely gives up his nuclear weapons program, it won’t work. The best Washington can hope for is that North Korea will return to the bargaining table, prepared to profit from, and cheat on, another nuclear deal.

The only real answer is an end to the Kim regime. Preferably by way of implosion — a coup, or collapse. That should entail the added benefit of delivering North Korea’s 25 million people from the most monstrous government on the planet. It would also send other tyrants of the 21st century, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his terrorist-sponsoring gang, the salutary message that acquiring nuclear weapons does not amount to a ticket to regime survival.

How to get there is a very tough question, made much tougher by all that can-kicking of previous administrations.

But here’s where I’d advise the Trump administration to start: Don’t aim to remold the character of a totalitarian regime. Don’t try to entice, pressure or manage Pyongyang in hope of better behavior. That will fail, at terrible cost.

Start instead with a basic mission: Get rid of the Kim regime. Start with that as the goal, and from there go through that fabled Washington toolbox — diplomatic, military, clandestine, overt, sanctions, cyber, you-name-it — seeking ways to minimize the enormous risks of bringing down the Kim regime, and coping with the wreck. North Korea’s tyranny, which needs to manufacture dire threats and enemies to justify its cruelties to its own people, has been claiming for years that the U.S. wants to take it down. Call that bluff.

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