North Korea’s Nuclear Threat and the EMP Deterrence

                

Gabby Ogbechie, The Property Gazette 

 

 

Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.), Fox News senior strategic analyst, on President Trump's strategy for Iran, the North Korea nuclear threat and Trump signing a $700 billion military budget.An analysis of statements by President Donald Trump of the United States, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the military might of their respective countries, especially at the commencement of the Trump Presidency on one hand, and the threats of Kim Jong-un of North Korea, which he repeatedly backed up with unending tests of his country’s missiles, would suggest to many observers that someone is eager to prove his country’s nuclear superiority by being the first to push the button.

‘’On April 21, 2017 three major U.S. cities – New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – experienced virtually simultaneous power outages. Businesses emptied. Schools closed. Subway commuters were stuck underground in the dark.

Rumors immediately started flying that a cyber-attack had caused all three blackouts.

The “official” word in San Francisco was that the outage was caused by a fire in a substation. In Los Angeles, high winds were blamed. In New York, an equipment failure was the announced culprit.

Commenting on the improbability of such occurrences in three major cities simultaneously, an informed observer remarked:  ‘’They’ve ignored dire warnings from experts about the grid’s vulnerability to physical, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and cyber-attack by North Korea, Russia, China and even ISIS, and other terrorist groups.’’

At about the same time-frame, there were reports that in France, the United Kingdom and a few other European nations, services were disrupted; and for a number of hours, governmental departments, train services, Ocean going Liners   which rely on computer services were disrupted and suspended for an appreciable period of time; long enough for enemy operatives to deploy nuclear warheads without allowing the opposition the benefit of a mutually assured deterrence.

What is EMP, Electromagnetic Pulse?

Electromagnetic Pulse is the resultant effect, or ‘eddies’ of a nuclear detonation; the aftermath of a nuclear blast from a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile. It could be likened to the resultant eddies after an object is thrown into or strikes a body of water. While a stone or any relatively small object could cause a little eddy, a Tsunami results from the huge explosion of either an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption in the Sea or an Ocean. The Tsunami is not the blast itself; similarly, the EMP is not the nuclear explosion itself; it is the aftermath of the explosion which could extend vertically or horizontally.

Studies on the EMP, according to available reports, have not progressed into the orbit of weaponization in the Western world, especially the United States. On the other hand, there appears to be evidence that Russia has not only advanced in its study of the EMP, but has already weaponized it. Russia is equally suspected to have shared its knowledge of the EMP with China and North Korea.

‘’A nuclear bomb that detonates 40 miles above a target (and hundreds of miles away) could deliver serious consequences,’’ Henry F. Cooper, who was the director of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) under President George H.W. Bush, wrote.

He pointed to the time the U.S. detonated a nuclear warhead 900 miles southwest of Hawaii. It was 1962 and the high-altitude nuclear bomb “destroyed hundreds of street lights in Honolulu, caused electrical surges on airplanes in the area and damaged at least six satellites.”

Stretching one’s imagination on the application of the EMP in any warfare scenario, not just the nuclear one, the following could be the results:

  • An enemy, employing the services of Satellites, could simultaneously target nuclear silos, naval nuclear arsenal/missile bearing submarines and vessels, and immobilize them with nuclear blasts several miles above such targets;
  • Having rendered the enemy’s retaliatory capability void, the belligerent may proceed to direct missile attacks targeted at knocking out such battery of nuclear weapons;
  • Send a second barrage of nuclear missiles into major cities and towns to create the required panic and effect as much destruction of lives and property as possible;
  • Release a third set of missiles to completely destroy the command center of the opposition; which would imply the seat of government where the Commander-in-chief resides, the seat of the defense apparatus, and the entire city.

All these could be achieved in a few minutes, while commanders are waiting for orders to launch retaliatory missiles which may never come. Defence systems such as THAAD would work under normal conditions, but if they are attacked with EMPs, they would be rendered inoperable and ineffective.

As someone who intended, ab initio to pull back significantly from America’s involvements in far-flung places all over the world with his ‘’America first’’ policy, President Trump would have significantly reduced the United States’ military commitments all over the world, and made the North Korean issue the world’s problem which it is, rather than America’s problem which it has become.

There’s no doubt that China and Russia, regarding the DPKR missile quagmire are ‘’running with the hares, and chasing with the hounds.’’ If these two countries were to verifiably withdraw or suspend their trade and other collaborative activities with North Korea, the regime would either crumble or hurriedly head to the negating table for long overdue talks. We are not suggesting a one-sided negotiation in which North Korea would not receive an iron-clad assurance of non-regime change and interference in its internal affairs by the United States and any of the other world powers.

However, a nation that is not accountable to any other nation is a danger in our nuclear age. A leader like Kim Jong Un who is not answerable to either any other leader or regional association of nations, with nuclear weapons, is a danger that must receive the undivided attention of every nation; not only the United States.

Finally, the history of the verbal duel between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of DPRK as chronicled by Julie Vitkovskaya, as detailed below, and the recent panic which ensued after the false alarm in Hawaii point to the fact that the world could be closer than we all think to a nuclear holocaust:

April 28: Approaching his 100th day in office, Trump tells Reuters a “major, major” conflict with North Korea is possible but that he still seeks diplomacy.

May 14: Kim celebrates the test of a ballistic missile. He’s quoted by state media saying, “If the U.S. awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history.”

May 23: The Post reports that Trump called Kim a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a phone conversation weeks before with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump said: Kim’s “rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript obtained by The Post.

Aug. 8: Trump warns North Korea that it will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the United States. It is his harshest language yet against the regime.

Aug. 9: North Korea responds by saying it is reviewing plans to target the U.S. territory of Guam. “The nuclear war hysteria of the U.S. authorities including Trump has reached an extremely reckless and rash phase for an actual war,” said the KCNA, North Korea’s official state media.

Sept. 17: Trump taunts Kim on Twitter: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”

Sept. 22: Kim calls Trump a “mentally deranged dotard,” prompting the public to search for the definition of the archaic insult.

Sept. 23: Trump tweets: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

Sept. 19: Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea” and says “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Oct. 1: Trump sends two tweets. One at 9:30 a.m. EST, saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” and another at 2 p.m. saying he “won’t fail” to rein in Kim.

Nov. 11: After reports surface that North Korean state media referred to Trump as a “lunatic old man,” Trump tweets: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

We believe the major world powers would do well to co-operate with the United States toward forestalling the looming holocaust by sorting out this North Korea problem. It is not a Trump problem and must never be seen as such.

 

Why Trump won’t ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

After US President Donald Trump’s address to the UN National Assembly, there is renewed confusion over what direction the US will take in developing a coherent strategy against the regime in Pyongyang.

Trump UN Rede in New York (Reuters/E. Munoz)

During President Trump’s first address to the UN National Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the one statement that echoed loudest in the plenary chamber was the US president’s full-throated threat of force toward North Korea.

This being Trump’s most prominent appearance on the world stage to date, these overt threats of force, made in front of world leaders attending a conference devoted to avoiding international conflict, sounded more suited coming from a belligerent warlord than the president of the United States. But the larger issue with Trump’s statements is the ambiguity they entail.

“The United States has great strength and patience but if forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” said Trump.

Read More: France’s Macron seeks conciliatory tone while Donald Trump lashes out at UN

By saying the US will act “if forced” to defend itself and allies, Trump is indicating that the US will only act if North Korea attacks first. This begs the question of how high a threat level the US and its allies would have to perceive in order spark a preemptive strike? So far, repeated missile and nuclear testshave not pushed the US into action.

And later in the speech, Trump characterized North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un as being on a “suicide mission,” which indicates that he considers Kim to be entirely irrational and this could conversely be interpreted that the US intends to act first.

These inherent contradictions in Trump’s public formulations on US-North Korea policy can have a destabilizing effect. At the same time they diminish the credibility of the US and its allies in threatening force against Pyongyang’s dangerous military escalation.

Watch video03:30

Q&A with Tyson Barker of the Aspen Institute Berlin on Donald Trump’s address to the UN

Trump’s brand of foreign policy

During his campaign and first months in office, unpredictability has been the only consistent measureof Trump’s foreign policy and is something the president has even lauded as being a strategic asset.

“I don’t want people to know my thinking,” Trump was quoted as saying during a radio interview in August 2016.

“Trump has no larger plan regarding North Korea and no nuanced view of when, how, why or how long military force is useful or effective,” Katharine Moon, Chair of Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution, told DW.

“Kim has a larger plan, regime survival, maintenance of national pride, and resistance to US power. Trump changes his mind regularly; Kim does not,” she added.

And North Korea doesn’t seem to be taking Trump’s threats very seriously right now. On Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Trump’s remarks amounted to “noise.”

“If he thought he could scare us with the noise of a dog barking, well, he should be daydreaming,” Ho told reporters in New York. Ho also said that he “felt sorry” for Trump’s aides.

Seoul Donald Trump und Kim Jong Un auf einem Screen (picture alliance/dpa/AP/A. Young-joon)Trump has taken a more direct tone with N. Korea than previous US presidents

Trump goes on the record

After Trump’s off the cuff remarks in August threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,”officials in his administration scrambled to water down the implications.

This time, there has yet to be any attempt from US military and foreign policy officials to put a euphemistic spin on Trump’s remarks. And unlike the spontaneous statements in August, these latest Trump threats came in a carefully written speech to the UN, which certainly lends them more “official” weight.

“The Trump administration has sent mixed messages about the possibilities for preemptive or preventive actions and North Korea’s threats will echo those sentiments. The risk of miscalculation is rising significantly.” Jenny Town, the managing editor of the 38 North think tank at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, told DW after Trump’s remarks in August.

The US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, responded to the UN speech with varying degrees of support for Trump’s position.

“We view the speech as portraying a firm and specific stance on the key issues regarding keeping peace and safety that the international community and the United Nations are faced with,” the office of South Korean President Moon Jae In said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“It clearly showed how seriously the United States government views North Korea’s nuclear program as the president spent an unusual amount of time discussing the issue.”

During his speech to the UN on Wednesday, Japan’s premier, Shinzo Abe echoed the US’ emphasis on increasing pressure on North Korea.

“Again, and again, attempts to resolve issues through dialogue have all come to naught. In what hope of success are we now repeating the very same failure a third time?” said Abe, adding that “pressure” rather than dialogue is what’s needed.

More bark than bite?

UN Generalversammlung in New York | Donald Trump, Präsident USA (Reuters/S. Stapleton)Trump speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 19, 2017

Despite new posturing from both sides, the fact remains that a preemptive military strike by the US on North Korea would have catastrophic consequences for South Korea and Japan.  And the regime in Pyongyang is fully aware it would be destroyed in a direct confrontation with the US and its allies.

And despite threats of force, there are major limits for the US to acting preemptively when millions of people around Seoul are in range of conventional North Korean artillery, which is a simple, yet effective weapon.

“North Korea’s artillery could inflict significant damage on Seoul,” Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association in Washington, told DW. “The country possesses a number of systems that are concentrated along the DMZ. Estimates put the number of artillery pieces at more than 11,000.”

Davenport added that although the systems are aging and have a high failure rate, some could reach Seoul. Specifically, 300mm multiple launch rocket systems can fire into the center of the capital. According to the US strategy think tank Stratfor, if every one of these were fired, a single volley could “deliver more than 350 metric tons of explosives across the South Korean capital, roughly the same amount of ordnance dropped by 11 B-52 bombers.”

Infografik North Korea's missile ranges

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the US maintained a policy of “containment and deterrence” to address the threat of Soviet nuclear weapons. The strategy rests on limiting the effectiveness of weapons systems and providing a major disincentive for their use, also known as “mutually assured destruction.”

The current problem with developing a policy of deterrence and containment is that the US has no intention to accept North Korea as a nuclear power and there is little to no dialogue between the two sides.

“Dialogue is really the only way that is going to get us out of this escalatory cycle,” said Town from 38 North. “Sanctions play their role and as North Korea demonstrates new capabilities, bolstering deterrence capabilities is necessary. But pressure and isolation alone is not going to change North Korea’s belief that it needs a deterrence capability.”

Up to now, the US has said that it is open to dialogue only if North Korea is willing to abandon its nuclear program, an offer North Korea rejects outright. To begin dialogue, expectations must be changed.

Watch video01:58

Trump slams North Korea, Iran in maiden UN speech

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