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Could N Korea hit Japan, S Korea with nukes? No one seems to know

66 Comments
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

North Korea is widely recognized as being years away from perfecting the technology to back up its bold threats of a pre-emptive strike on the United States. But some nuclear experts say it might have the know-how to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at South Korea and Japan, which host U.S. military bases.

No one can tell with any certainty how much technological progress North Korea has made, aside from perhaps a few people close to its secretive leadership. And it is highly unlikely that Pyongyang would launch such an attack, because the retaliation would be devastating.

The North's third nuclear test on Feb 12, which prompted the toughest U.N. Security Council sanctions yet against Pyongyang, is presumed to have advanced its ability to miniaturize a nuclear device. And experts say it's easier to design a nuclear warhead that works on a shorter-range missile than one for an intercontinental missile that could target the U.S.

The assessment of David Albright at the Institute for Science and International Security think tank is that North Korea has the capability to mount a warhead on its Rodong missile, which has a range of 800 miles (1,280 kilometers) and could hit South Korea and most of Japan. But he cautioned in his analysis, published after the latest nuclear test, that it is an uncertain estimate, and the warhead's reliability remains unclear.

Albright contends that the experience of Pakistan could serve as precedent. Pakistan bought the Rodong from North Korea after its first flight test in 1993, then adapted and produced it for its own use. Pakistan, which conducted its first nuclear test in 1998, is said to have taken less than 10 years to miniaturize a warhead before that test, Albright said.

North Korea also obtained technology from the trafficking network of A.Q. Khan, a disgraced pioneer of Pakistan's nuclear program, acquiring centrifuges for enriching uranium. According to the Congressional Research Service, Khan may also have supplied a Chinese-origin nuclear weapon design he provided to Libya and Iran, which could have helped the North in developing a warhead for a ballistic missile.

But Siegfried Hecker at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, who has visited North Korea seven times and been granted unusual access to its nuclear facilities, is skeptical the North has advanced that far in miniaturization of a nuclear device.

"Nobody outside of a small elite in North Korea knows — and even they don't know for sure," he said in an e-mailed response to questions from The Associated Press. "I agree that we cannot rule it out for one of their shorter-range missiles, but we simply don't know."

"Thanks to A.Q. Khan, they almost certainly have designs for such a device that could fit on some of their short or medium-range missiles," said Hecker, who last visited the North in November 2010. "But it is a long way from having a design and having confidence that you can put a warhead on a missile and have it survive the thermal and mechanical stresses during launch and along its entire trajectory."

The differing opinions underscore a fundamental problem in assessing a country as isolated as North Korea, particularly its weapons programs: Solid proof is hard to come by.

For example, the international community remains largely in the dark about the latest underground nuclear test. Although it caused a magnitude 5.1 tremor, no gases escaped, and experts say there was no way to evaluate whether a plutonium or uranium device was detonated. That information would help reveal whether North Korea has managed to produce highly enriched uranium, giving it a new source of fissile material, and help determine the type and sophistication of the North's warhead design.

The guessing game about the North's nuclear weapons program dates back decades. Albright says that in the early 1990s, the CIA estimated that North Korea had a "first-generation" design for a plutonium device that was likely to be deployed on the Nodong missile — although it's not clear what information that estimate was based on.

"Given that 20 years has passed since the deployment of the Rodong, an assessment that North Korea successfully developed a warhead able to be delivered by that missile is reasonable," Albright wrote.

According to Nick Hansen, a retired intelligence expert who closely monitors developments in the North's weapons programs, the Rodong missile was first flight-tested in 1993. Pakistan claims to have re-engineered the missile and successfully tested it, although doubts apparently persist about its reliability.

Whether North Korea has also figured out how to wed the missile with a nuclear warhead has major ramifications not just for South Korea and Japan, but for the U.S. itself, which counts those nations as its principal allies in Asia and retains 80,000 troops in the two countries.

U.S. intelligence appears to have vacillated in its assessments of North Korea's capabilities.

In April 2005, Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea had the capability to arm a missile with a nuclear device. Pentagon officials, however, later backtracked.

According to the Congressional Research Service, a report from the same intelligence agency to Congress in August 2007 said that "North Korea has short and medium-range missiles that could be fitted with nuclear weapons, but we do not know whether it has in fact done so."

In an interview Friday in Germany, Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. does not know whether North Korea has "weaponized" its nuclear capability.

Still, Washington is taking North Korea's nuclear threats seriously.

In December, North Korea launched a long-range rocket that could potentially hit the continental U.S. According to South Korean officials, North Korea has moved at least one missile with "considerable range" to its east coast — possibly the untested Musudan missile, believed to have a range of 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers).

This week, the U.S. said two of the Navy's missile-defense ships were positioned closer to the Korean peninsula, and a land-based system is being deployed for the Pacific territory of Guam. The Pentagon last month announced longer-term plans to beef up its U.S.-based missile defenses.

South Korea is separated from North Korea and its huge standing army by a heavily militarized frontier, and the countries remain in an official state of war, as the Korean War ended in 1953 without a peace treaty. Even without nuclear arms, the North positions enough artillery within range of Seoul to devastate large parts of the capital before the much-better-equipped U.S. and South Korea could fully respond.

And Japan has been starkly aware of the threat since North Korea's 1998 test of the medium-range Taepodong missile that overflew its territory.

Yet in the latest standoff, much of the international attention has been on the North's potential threat to the U.S., a more distant prospect than its capabilities to strike its own neighbors. Experts say the North could hit South Korea with chemical weapons, and might also be able to use a Scud missile to carry a nuclear warhead.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, acknowledges the North might be able to put a warhead on a Rodong missile, but he sees it as unlikely. He says the North's nuclear threats are less worthy of attention than the prospects of a miscalculation leading to a conventional war.

"North Korea understands that a serious attack on South Korea or other U.S. interests is going to be met with overwhelming force," he said. "It would be near suicidal for the regime."

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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66 Comments
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They may have one or two at the most. We can intercept such a small number. The people that need to be afraid, very afraid is the Americans and South Koreans. Japan can defend itself from that bankrupt starving nation. We do not need the Americans whose presence makes us a target.

-39 ( +3 / -42 )

US get out of Japan.

-33 ( +5 / -37 )

The recent events involving North Korea's military buildup and subsequent threats of targeting Japan, South Korea, and the United States, specifically, Guam, the Hawaiian islands, and several cities in North America have created an extremely tense situtation. Given the laregly unknown with respect to the current North Korean Leadership Team, coupled with an uncertainty about the actual capabilities of the North Korean military, many here in Hawaii are extremely concerned, since we are in the crossfire zone. The presence of United States troops on both Japanese and South Korean soil does invite aggression against both South Korea and Japan. However, with respect to the comments made earlier, North Korea most likely would still exhibit aggression against both Japan and South Korea even if the United States were to substantially withdraw its military presence from Japan and South Korea, since both Japan and South Korea are democracies, and North Korea is a Communist country. The key to resolving this dispute is the role that the People's Republic of China will play. Historically, the Communist Chinese government has been very supportive of the Kim Government of North Korea, ever since the overthrow by Mao Zedong in 1949, and the subsequent Korean War. However, the relationship between China and the United States has evolved substantially since the Korean War, and now, the United States and China enjoy a robust trading relationship where the United States is a debtor nation to China. Please consider contrasting this changing relationship with the rather stagnant relationship between China and North Korea from the end of the Korean War to the Present. Quite honestly, China gives far more to North Korea, than North Korea is able to reciprocate back to China. Thank you very much.

Respectfully Submitted: Mark Kazuo Bradley Honolulu, Hawaii.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@yuri , USA doesn't make Japan a target , your pisspoor history with Asia makes Japan a target pretty much with all it's neighbors .

21 ( +28 / -7 )

YuriOtaniApr. 07, 2013 - 06:58AM JST They may have one or two at the most. We can intercept such a small number. The people that need to be afraid, very >afraid is the Americans and South Koreans. Japan can defend itself from that bankrupt starving nation. We do not >need the Americans whose presence makes us a target.

No Yuri. Japan does need the US. And Okinawa needs Japan. Japan may be capable of defending itself from a conventional attack. But not a nuclear one.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

If NK ever attack SK/USA/Japan, the country of NK will be wiped from the world map within 24 hours. NK knows this, and will never ever go beyond the missile testing (and failing) they've been doing for decades.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Japan could not defend itself alone. People who think so are deluded. NK would overrun it within hours. Diplomacy has been and is the best option to avoid war.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

In this case American forces being based here has little to do with any threats. Perhaps there is a small chance it moves Japan a few slots up the list, but NK is no friend of Japan.

The North Korea leadership basically hides from the world allowing their people to live in poverty and allowing them nearly no freedom of speech, movement or thought.. It then once every few years winds up their clanky old mostly soviet era military machinery to try and blackmail their neighbors out of money and supplies to feed its starving people.

This all instead of trying to take part in the international community.

The real worry is if china will support them if NK chooses to be the aggressor.. Lets hope that the US, Japan and all the rest of the world is in contact with china and working positively to contain the situation which is at a level not seen since 1950.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Crazedinjapan

"USA doesn't make Japan a target"

Then how come they haven't made any threat against Japan directly? Their threats are always against the US or S Korea. They might not love Japan but right now Japan isn't their biggest concern

"your pisspoor history with Asia makes Japan a target pretty much with all it's neighbors"

Really ? Japan has made mistakes during WWII (just like America has many times in the last 40 years) but I haven't heard Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand or any other country trying to target Japan.

It's S Korea who is eternally obsessed about Japan.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Could N Korea hit Japan, S Korea with nukes? No one seems to know.

Least of all NK.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

North Korea's actions are in part influenced by the US.

http://directaction.org.au/issue29/us_aggression_continues_against_north_korea

The US and South Korea have been pushing NK into a corner.

Of course they will fight back.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I dont think NK would attack Japan, they have said to most embassies to evacuate and have not directly threatened Japan, only the US and SK so far from what i have seen.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No right minded Politician, unless for political intransigence or expediency, with a counter-nationalist movement in mind, would label Japan as a warmongering state, worthy of military action. Besides, history is his story.. a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a simple truth. The basis that Asia despises Japan for its past history.. is ironically flawed. Many foreigner ministers, prime ministers.. from SEA has praised Japan for liberating SEA, from Colonialism. But in any event.. The CIA let AQ Khan off the hook on numerous occasions.. because the US needed Pakistan, against the Soviets, and Afghanistan. So, in all honesty, the US is to blame for the black-market proliferation of Nuclear weapons.. Also, AQ Khan is considered to be a Hero in Pakistan.. dont WORRY people.. we have the Aegis destoryers remember?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The guessing game about the North’s nuclear weapons program dates back decades. Albright says that in the early 1990s, the CIA estimated that North Korea had a “first-generation” design for a plutonium device that was likely to be deployed on the Nodong missile

This coming from the very same CIA that said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq too. Somehow it's rather difficult for me to believe the "Intelligence" part of the cIa sometimes.

NK is much more reclusive than Iraq and much harder to get any type of information regarding their weapons development, so isn't it just guess work all along?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Better not to say anything to Kim and his gang. He is just a spoiled infant and could do any stupid thing at any time. If Japs, Koreans, and Americans think themselves civilised and wholesome, then don't quarrel with uncontrollable boy. Stay quiet for some time and then, when it's back to normal, please help the North Koreans citizens. They are humankind and they will respond accordingly if you treat them well with respect. The world is changing and North Korea could not be a special and exception.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Crazedinjapan

Retort of the month award!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

NK doesn't have nukes.

The last 2 'nuclear tests' were not nuclear at all.

USAF sniffer planes confirmed this when they failed to report any radiation in the air after both of NK's latest 'nuclear tests.'

However, certain media have been pushing the 'nuclear test' line for reasons perhaps only they know.

It is irresponsible, not to mention misleading to imply NK has nuclear capability at this point.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If a war starts. Seoul will be a ring of fire. Just checkout those Missiles, they are high speed. Its really hard to intercept them, Also, Seoul can be attacked with long range artilley from North Korea. Nobody has

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's S Korea who is eternally obsessed about Japan.

And China too!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"If a war starts Seoul will be a ring of fire"

N Korea says it will be a sea of fire. Yeah, probably, but in the ensuing few days, the North Korean government and military would be put out of commission for good.

Hide Suzuki: "Japan has made mistakes during WWll"

The biggest one was starting a war with the United States.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

YuriOtani,

We do not need the Americans whose presence makes us a target.

Are you serious? You're letting nationalistic zeal and pride get in the way of some very important history that's passed through the region.

South Korean and North Korea are separated because of a long and bloody civil war that killed some 1.2 million people on all sides. North Korea has a special place of disdain in its heart for South Korea, just as South Korea harbors a lot of anger against the North.

And let's not forget the Japanese occupation of the Korean Penninsula for some 50 years, followed by Japan's support of United Nation troops seeking to prevent North Korean communists (supported by China) from overrunning the penninsula. North Korea is still more than a little angry about both.

There's absolutely no love lost between North Korea and its closest non-communist neighbors.

Yes, North Korea certainly dislikes the U.S. But it's not due to the peevish assertion that the U.S. simply has a military presence in Asia. It's because of what the U.S. is capable of doing with that military presence if North Korea follows through on any of the countless threats of violence it's made against its neighbors over the years. What sets the U.S. apart is precisely that it promises an armed response to any attack on Japan or South Korea that would be catastrophic and decisive in ways the Japanese and South Korean militaries simply cannot deliver. There isn't a political or military expert on the planet that would deny this.

You know it, I know it, and everyone else here does too. Nationalistic pride isn't going to solve the problem of North Korea.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

SushiSake,

USAF sniffer planes confirmed this when they failed to report any radiation in the air after both of NK's latest 'nuclear tests.'"

Could you provide links to support this statement? Pretty much the entire world is operating on the assumption that North Korea has indeed tested not one, but two nuclear devices, so I'm curious as to why this salient point seems to be underreported . . . globally.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Would the US, UK, Russia, China, Japan etc. really put up with another country performing military exercises off their coasts, exercises that are clearly designed to fight a war against them? Would any country accept this without a murmur? Of couse they woudn't! The last time this kicked off it was also due to provocative US/SK military exercises off the coast of NK. Don't get me wrong, NK is a rogue state, and a clear threat to world peace and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, but America is deliberately provoking the NK regime as part of its divide and rule policy for the region.

If war breaks out, Seoul will be wiped off the world map before Pyongyang, through conventional fire, then the US and NATO will destroy NK hoping to hell that China doesn't join in. NK probably has no nukes that could hit US territory, but if war breaks out, it's one real weapon against the US is its possible ability to nuke SK and Japan. Maybe we should have intervened on the Korean peninsular instead of fighting the idiotic Iraq war, but now it's too late and NK has nukes. Left alone they might implode, or with the right encouragement they might rejoin the international community, but war games off their coast serves no decent purpose and none of us would tolerate this off our own coasts.

Thumb me down all you like, but it doesn't stop us being obvious hypocrites playing a very dangerous game.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

SushiSake,

I'm not saying it's not possible. It's a fascinating premise, and if true, would be one of the greatest bluffs in history. But like I said, the world seems universally convinced at least one actual nuclear test did indeed occur.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

North Korea is not a threat to Japan. My god! They fly Mig 15's 71's 21's a pilot can run up a score flying against them! That is if they could reach Japan in the first place. They do not have the operational range. They have 40 Mig 29's though how many of them can fly? They have 32 IL-28's my Lord they are from the 50's! Any airstrike against Japan does not have a chance. We would have lots of time to shoot them down. As for troops how will they get to Japan? How would they land on our shores? Their Navy have 4 frigates and 6 corvettes and are obsolete Soviet crap. Then again how many can get to sea? North Korea poses a certain missile threat against Japan. Then again they just do not have the numbers. They would be better off shooting at Guam and a known US Bomber threat. North Korea is a threat to South Korea and limited at most. The USA proved twice numbers alone are not enough. While they have a lot of artillery I doubt very much if they would get off more than a few rounds before being destroyed. Japan has nothing to fear from North Korea.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Mig 17's oops

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

yukiotani "We do not need the Americans whose presence makes us a target."

Agree you do not need us to protect you from North Korea. But you absolutely need us to protect you from China. Were it not for the US forces backing Japan, China's aggression towards Japan would be far worst.

You really do need to look at the big picture here. Do you want China dictating to you? Or do you want to endure a minor degree of inconvenience to have the US keep you safe?

Up to you, but if you say go... don't come crying when China takes action to take the islands and starts making more demands on your government.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Yuri

I hope you're right. But do you remember the song from War of the Worlds?

"The chances of anything coming from Mars, they said, are a million to one...

But still they come...."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

USA doesn't make Japan a target , your pisspoor history with Asia makes Japan a target pretty much with all it's neighbors

China and Korea have been a threat to Japan since the 1200's. Mother Nature protected Japan back then from a full scale invasion. Relying on divine winds can be a bit tricky nowadays, so Japan has chosen a modern substitute, the US military.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

South Korea is more of a threat than North Korea. They could give us a good fight. They may even talk themselves into doing it. As for China they have nothing to gain from attacking Japan. Russia has nothing to gain as well. Yes I do admit South will probably not attack but they have the means. What is true is South Koreans hate Japanese and also Okinawa people. So tell me why should we help defend them? A Korean war might be a good thing and with luck they would both lose. Tell me why it is Japan's concern?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

A Korean war might be a good thing and with luck they would both lose. Tell me why it is Japan's concern?

One word. Refugees.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If North Korea was desperate it would be far more cost-efficient (and probably more successful) to simply load warheads onto fishing boats showing false colours and smuggle them into Japan (or detonate them off the coast). There are plenty of isolated coves and bays in Japan, and this is a far more plausible, low-tech solution than the question being posed.

However, the question shouldn't be could, but rather would.

Any nuclear detonation in Japan or South Korea has a strong chance of landing fallout back in North Korea, and more importantly, China. China would NOT take kindly to this for any number of reasons. The minimum response North Korea could expect would be all aid from China ceasing. The most probably response would be an armed invasion from China so that some Chinese general could strap the North Korean top brass down to a table and explain with a pointy object just how displeased they are with this turn of events.

Of course the U.S. wouldn't like it since the economic ripple from a nuclear detonation in Japan would play merry hell with the U.S. economy, but the U.S. are pretty unreliable in terms of response unless U.S. citizens are killed. If just Japanese are killed I expect a harshly worded note from the U.S. congress would probably be the order of the day. If U.S. citizens are killed then they'll probably nuke Korea until it glows and then invade China, India, and also Australia because... well, its there and they think they have the moral high ground and they can make up some excuse about North Koreans in Aussie.

Face it, there's simply no percentage in it for North Korea. In fact doing it would be a death sentence, and those old fat generals in North Korea have the same human aversion to dying that we all do. This cartoonish treatment of North Korea as some two-dimensional villains lacking any human characteristics is just idiotic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Yuri 'A Korean war might be a good thing and with luck they would both lose. Tell me why it is Japan's concern?' Arguably the most ridiculous question I've read on JT.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I can't see SK attacking Japan. They have NK to worry about. But I'm not sure that NK can actually launch a nuke. They can cause a lot of damage though. It would be suicide for the Un but the damage would be serious. Unfortunately for the Un Japan, SK and the US have no intention of caving in this time. So now what, pudgy dictator?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Puffthe Magic:

" Japan could not defend itself alone. People who think so are deluded. NK would overrun it within hours. "

I assume you are trying to make a joke. In case you are serious, please tell us how all those malnourished NK soldiers would get to Japan in order to "swamp" us. With their ramshacke fishing boats? Their couple of WW2 age frigattes? Do they even have enough fuel for the trip?

Good grief.

NK is a third world hellhole with a couple of nukes and a leadership that has perfected the art of bluffing themselves to ever new concessions. Nothing more to the latest round of noise then that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

LFRAgain,

Here is supporting information:

"After the (Feb. 2013) test, the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center in Florida dispatched WC-135 "sniffer" airplanes to look for traces of gas residue that could offer clues to the device's design, but those efforts apparently turned up empty, the officials said."

"An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the planes were dispatched but said no results from the missions could be released. A U.S. intelligence official said analysis from the tests "was continuing."

"We need to remember that this is deep in the mountains (where) they tested that are formed of heavy rocks, not out in flat, exposed area," the official said, adding: "We may not find anything."

Indeed, this would certainly hold true if there was actually nothing to find. 

"Officials and experts familiar with the capabilities of sniffer planes said that over the years the North Koreans have become increasingly effective at burying and sealing their tests sites to conceal even the faintest scientific traces."

A hypothesis and nothing more. 

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE91J1CY20130220?irpc=932

I read similar reports about NK's 2009 'nuclear' test. USAF sniffer planes detected no radiation.

Another Reuters article I read stated that the blast triggered a seismic event. Large large amounts of TNT is capable of doing that.

No, this is very serious, IMO. No one should jump to the conclusion that NK has carried out ANY nuclear tests. Unless someone can provide contrary evidence, we should conclude - at this point - that NK does not have nuclear capability and calm down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

 gelendestrasse - "But I'm not sure that NK can actually launch a nuke."

Um, care to enlighten us as to exactly what NK nukes you are referring to?

 

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Could N Korea hit Japan, S Korea with nukes? No one seems to know

strange, just look at JapanTodayPoll results ( below Special Feature Column) !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would not be surprised if they faked the nuke tests. In any war South Korea will kick their butts. China would be wise to do nothing as after the war the American bases will close. After the war is over the need for US bases in Japan will be nil. Without American bases China is not threatened.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Sushi, the ones they've been detonating underground.

Of course that leaves open the question of how long will it take them to get a weaponized bomb and what might be done to keep the Un from getting to that point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

strange, just look at JapanTodayPoll results ( below Special Feature Column) !

And yet many people who know the story of "The boy who cried wolf" too many times knows the merits of not ignoring warnings.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Media reporting is not "evidence" of a nuclear test.

Radiation in the air is evidence of a nuclear test.

And none was detected after both the 2009 and 2013 NK "nuclear tests."

It's like the build-up to Iraq all over again, and exactly the same question needs to be asked:

Where is the evidence<< for ANY NK "nuclear tests"?

That's what I want to know. 

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gelendestrauss - "Sushi, the ones they've been detonating underground."

The piles of TNT?

If so, I agree.

If it's the phantom 'nuclear bombs', I do not agree.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unless proven otherwise, implying that NK possesses and/or has been testing nuclear bombs is nothing short of reckless - and very dangerous - reporting.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

NK: Wolf! Wolf!!!! others: WHERE?!?!? NK: Just kidding... WOLF!!! Others:WHERE?!?! NK: Just kidding... WOLF!!!!! Others: WHERE!!?!?!?!? NK:Just kidding again! WOLF!!!! Others: bah forget it NK:There really is a wolf NOW!!!! BOOM! Gotcha good suckers! Others: Ok we've had enough of this....Feeds NK to wolf

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@yuri. Can I just point out a fatal flaw in your argument of the age and effectiveness of NK arsenal. Done of the US B-52s are close to 50yrs old yet still fully operational. F-16s are upward of 20yrs old and still fully functional. The Vietcong fought the US with basically nothing (granted, that was on their home soil) the list can continue. Afghanistan. NK maybe out of date and obsolete in nearly every regard but don't be stupid enough to right them off with arrogance. NK would lose a conflict but people will die.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

North Korea has 8 known industrial-scale uranium mines and plants for milling, refining, and converting uranium. So even if they didn't have the technology to create a fully functioning nuclear weapon, they could still launch a dirty bomb. In fact they could launch a good many dirty bombs.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Obama and lil Kim just need to sit down for a few beers together and theyll sort everything out. If lil Kim just went to the states, shared some leaf with Obama and his mates, then youll notice a new NK within a week.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

House Atreides - "North Korea has 8 known industrial-scale uranium mines and plants for milling, refining, and converting uranium."

Even so, it's a huge leap of logic to go from the fact they have uranium mines to the assumption they have nuclear weapons.

"So even if they didn't have the technology to create a fully functioning nuclear weapon, they could still launch a dirty bomb. In fact they could launch a good many dirty bombs."

Using the same logic coupled with the fact Australia also has lots of uranium mines, would you also claim Australia also has the ability to launch a dirty bomb?

If so, why not attack that straw man too?

The GWB/neocon-led deception that led to the ill-founded invasion of Iraq should have taught enough people by now to >demand evidence<, and if none is forthcoming, to treat any claims of "threats" as being speculation only.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

NO

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"If NK ever attack SK/USA/Japan, the country of NK will be wiped from the world map within 24 hours. NK knows this, and will never ever go beyond the missile testing (and failing) they've been doing for decades."

Actual Daniel the problem here is that North Korea DOESN'T know or understand this. North Korea is incapable of using basic logic that most of us take for granted. LOGIC would dictate you would feed your nation before building the world's largest hotel in a Country that has NO TOURISTS, or sending a 'satelite' into space. LOGIC would dictate not to threaten a SEA OF FIRE against the nation that has the strongest military in the entire world. North Korea HAS NO LOGIC and therefore nobody should let their guard down for a second.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The answer is that Nk don't need nukes. Japan has over 50 open nuclear targets. Simple rocket hit will put Japan in big trouble. Lets hope that this never happen. My question is why nobody didn't figure it out?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quite a few extreme comments on here. War is never a good option. History has ample records of this fact. Suggesting that NK&SK go at it again is a pathetic statement. Loss of innocent lives will be in large numbers. Refugees would end up in Russia China Japan at the expense of taxpayers in all three locations. Displacing people or killing them through the acts of ignorance and war is pathetic.

South Korea is in the same position as Japan, both live under the umbrella protection of the USA . With that fact alone SK wouldn't ever instigate or start any conflict with Japan on any major level. Stop hating Start living!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

SushiSake,

Thanks for the link. Yes, I recall seeing something to that effect after the second reported nuclear test. However, it seems there are very few who have been entirely willing to assume the tests were all just part of an elaborate ruse based on no more evidence than a lack of radioactive fallout. You're making the very same error of assumption that you accuse others of.

Most experts agree that a nuclear test did indeed happen, not because of evidence of radioactivity in the atmosphere, but because of the very first test North Korea made in 2006, which was confirmed by U.S. military sources based on radiation signatures in the atmosphere.

Also, drawing from a variety of sources, including those able to investigate North Korea's nuclear program firsthand, the most significant being the IAEA, along with multiple intelligence agency reports detailing the quantity and quality of nuclear technology and know-how smuggled into North Korea from various sources, including Pakistan and Iran, people well-versed in the technical benchmarks necessary for putting together a bigger, better nuke than the one North Korea detonated in 2006 have extrapolated from the existing data to make a fairly respected educated guess that North Korea wasn't just making things up with the second and third reported nuclear tests.

In short, with the nuclear tech North Korea has already demonstrated it possesses, it's not that far a leap to get to the device that yielded at minimum a 7-kiloton explosion this past February.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They have never been able to make any go where they were ment to go.

**Probably not .But you can bet their would be a big problem With their Guidance Systems. So lets hope it falls on themselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hardly a sqawk from our foriegn policy hardman Mr Abe. I'm surprised he isn't bringing up the abduction topic again and piling on a few extra sanctions - Not really. It's good to know that he understands when to keep his mouth shut.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I recently read a report from the Natalus Policy Institute (sorry, no link on me at this time) that stated that the threat to turn Seoul into a ring of fire was largely an empty one. Here is a quick summary:

While the North does have around 12,000 artillary tubes, only an estimated 700-750 have the range to hit Seoul and only the northern - less populated areas. 2/3 of these tubes are multiple rocket launchers which have to be wheeled out into the open (the back blast kills everybody in sight if fired in a covered firing positon). During this time, they would be very vulnerable to counter-battery fire. Speaking of counter-battery fire, the North would probably hold about 1/3 of these tubes in reserve to counter the counter-batteries. Thus there would be less available to dump on Seoul. The newest of these systems is 30 years old and nobody thinks that they have been given top-shelf maintainence. Losses to failure would probably equal or exceed losses to counter attacks. I don't know where the author got the information, but he claims that the dud-rate on NK shells is 25%. The citizens of Seoul are not going to just stand around once the shells start falling. Within a couple of cycles, virtually everybody who can will have found reinforced shelter thus lowering the loss rate.

Add this all up and the author estimated a maximum of 29,000 casualties in the opening barrage and about 80,000 over the course of a week. I fully realize that this is still a VERY large amount of civilian casualties and the losses in both people and money would be grave indeed, but it is a far different number from the one (300-500k) that is the conventional wisdom.

Of course I cannot know that this is true with certainty and I would rather not find out. I just thought I would put it into the discussion.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

YuriOtani what's next you hope North Korea wins the war

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It won't happen - NK would be erased from the face of the Earth if it launched even one nuclear missile at a US protected country or island. Even a conventional missile launch would result in a bombing run by B2s.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If the USA REALLY wanted peace with North Korea, it could have done what it agreed to many years ago, and withdrawn it's troops. It can at any time start peace negotiations and sign a peace agreement. Right now, the world is facing a rogue nuclear nation that keeps threatening to fire off a nuclear missile, because no one seems to care enough about peace to actually negotiate one with North Korea, least of all the United States.

US Still In State Of Active War With North Korea; Not Honoring Armistice Agreement, And Provoking Nuclear War; via @AGreenRoad http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2013/04/us-still-in-state-of-active-war-with.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those are facts above. The US has not honored what it signed and while NK is probably psychotic and definitely annoying, the USA is the cause of this situation. If you dont think so, you should do some reading on the matter. Educate yourself outside of this website.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

it's very funny in a very non-funny sarcastic dark and twisted way how everyone everwhere always ignores the fact that you dont actually need to launch a nuclear warhead through the air prior to detonation so if any power anywhere has access to or has proven to be able to detonate a load then they CAN. You could, say ... carry it over the border, to ignore that or to say you can't say that only means you need to fire your secret service members top to bottom. A bleeding scuba team could transfer it

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Shannon,

"The US has not honored what it signed and . . . the USA is the cause of this situation."

Every agreement hammered out by the U.S. with North Korea over the past 20 years has been at the barrel of a gun held by the North Korean leadership to the head of South Korea, the capital of Seoul, to be exact. The Agreed Framework negotiated between the U.S. and North Korea was not honored because North Korea was unwilling to provide comprehensive proof that it had indeed abandoned its admitted nuclear weapons program that brought the U.S. to the bargaining table in an effort to stop a nuclear arms race in East Asia to begin with.

This all started long before the “Axis of Evil” idiocy uttered by foreign policy savant G.W. Bush.

It all started long before joint U.S./South Korean military training exercises.

It started with the division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II as the US and the Soviet Union jockeyed for positions of power and influence in a world governed by entirely new politics.

You believe readers are ignorant of where culpability lies in this mess, yet you seem to be operating under an assumption that East Asian history began the day the U.S. decided not to rush towards completion of the Light Water Reactors they promised North Korea if North Korea would promise to stop working towards enriching weapons-grade plutonium. History doesn't happen in a vacuum and casually slapping the blame for this situation on the U.S. seems more akin to the in vogue predilection for making the US out to be the world’s boogey man than any genuine appreciation for facts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish I could live to be 200 and read Shannon and Yuri's kids commenting about the evils of China and how they wish America was still wasting its time and money in Asia...oh irony..u sting so good.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Shinjuku

200? I doubt any of our kids will still be around to comment by the time you get that old...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ lucabrasi Well I've I'm living to be 200 with all my drinking and smoking and living in the shadow of Fukushima...I'm assuming everyones kicking around longer...that or I just entered a random age without putting any thought into it

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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