North Korea Poised To Test Next Us President With Growing Nuclear Missile Threat
SEOUL, South Korea With the U.S. election less than two weeks away, it appears clear that North Koreas leader would like to continue his bromance with President Donald Trump.
Kim Jong Un has heaped praise on Trump in more than two dozen letters even as nuclear talks between the two countries faltered. Meanwhile, the North has called Democratic rival Joe Biden a rabid dog who is greedy for power.
No matter who wins, the new U.S. administration will face a growing nuclear threat from the North, which recently rolled out a huge new intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to target the United States.
Testing a new administration The Norths next step will likely be to test-fire a long-range missile, but probably not until after the results are in from the Nov. 3 vote, experts said.
The North Koreans are perhaps more inclined to teach a lesson and to housebreak a new Biden administration than they are to throw a monkey wrench into whats already a kind of wild and crazy U.S. election, Daniel Russel, former assistant secretary of state for the region, said during a virtual panel earlier this month.
Despite the weapons advances, Trump has consistently touted North Korea as a foreign policy success, saying in 2018 that he and Kim fell in love after months of high-profile summits and diplomatic efforts tamped down hostilities that pushed the divided peninsula to the brink of a new war in 2017.
Trump Biden Trade Barbs Over North Koreas Nukes
WASHINGTON In the final presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle, former Vice President Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump over his chummy relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who recently unveiled a new, larger intercontinental ballistic missile.
Trump noted that Biden and President Barack Obama had not curtailed Kims nuclear ambitions, and then falsely claimed that Obama had tried and failed to secure a meeting with Kim.
We have a different kind of relationship. We have a very good relationship, and theres no war, Trump said of himself and Kim.
Biden shot back: We had a good relationship with Hitler before he, in fact, invaded the rest of Europe. The reason wouldnt meet with President Obama is because said were going to talk about denuclearization.
Biden said he would only consent to meet if Kim agreed to draw down his nuclear capacity, and that Biden would maintain pressure on China, which has leverage over the Kim regime.
What has he done? Biden said of Trump. Hes legitimized North Korea, hes talked about his good buddy, whos a thug, a thug. And he talks about how were better off, and they have much more capable missiles, able to reach U.S. territory much more easily than ever before.
The exchange occurred days after Kim rolled out a new ICMB during a nighttime parade in Pyongyang.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Missiles That Can Reach The Us
Throughout 2017, North Korea tested several missiles demonstrating the rapid advances in its military technology.
The Hwasong-12 was thought to be able to reach as far as 4,500km , putting US military bases on the Pacific island of Guam well within striking distance.
Later, the Hwasong-14 demonstrated even greater potential, with a range of 8,000km although some studies suggested it could travel as far as 10,000km if fired on a maximum trajectory.
This would have given Pyongyang its first truly intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching New York.
Eventually, the Hwasong-15 was tested, peaking at an estimated altitude of 4,500km – 10 times higher than the International Space Station.
If fired on a more conventional “flatter” trajectory, the missile could have a maximum range of some 13,000km, putting all of the continental US in range.
In October 2020, North Korea unveiled its new ballistic missile.
It has not yet been named or tested. Like the Hwasong-15, it is a two-stage liquid fuelled missile, but with a greater length and diameter. It could possibly allow for multiple warheads.
It is believed to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to anywhere in the US, and its size had surprised even seasoned analysts when it was put on show in 2020.
In January 2021, North Korea unveiled another missile – a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile which it declared to be “the world’s most powerful weapon”.
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Pyongyang Isnt Crazy Just Focused On A Credible Threat
North Korea continues to enhance its ballistic missile capability and possesses the technical capacity to present a real danger to the U.S. homeland as well as our allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told Congress. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a similar point: We also face challenges from North Korea, a country with the ambition to be capable of striking the U.S. homeland.
Its true that the North is continuing to enhance its military capabilities. Before agreeing to meet with then-U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his nation within striking distance being able to target the continental United States. Although more testing is needed to perfect a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, Pyongyang could hit American dependencies, such as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as Okinawa, Japan, which contains a Marine Expeditionary Force and many U.S. bases.
North Koreas quest for nukes has helped make it an economic disaster, turning it into a global pariah and diverting resources from economic investment. Thats one reason the country, as Kim admitted in public recently, is facing another critical food crisis. However, it now is an unofficial member of the worlds exclusive nuclear club.
That is a prolix way of saying Pyongyang needs the bomb to protect itself from Washington.
What Punitive Steps Has North Korea Faced
North Koreas withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003 and its missile tests and first nuclear test in 2006 prompted the UN Security Council to unanimously adopt resolutions that condemned North Koreas actions and imposed sanctions against the country. The Security Council has steadily ratcheted up sanctions through subsequent resolutions in the hopes of changing Pyongyangs behavior. These additional measures ban arms sales to North Korea, as well as any financial assistance and the sale of materials and technology that could be used for ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons. The measures also impose restrictions on select luxury goods and other foreign trade, as well as inspections of cargo bound for North Korea.
Though sanctions have curtailed North Koreas access to materials, it is difficult to enforce and regulate all international cargo deliveries. More recently, there has been a greater push to limit North Korean financial resources in a bid to stunt funds directed to military and nuclear advancements. Some experts and officials have condemned Chinas earlier assistance to the Norths ballistic missile program, ongoing trade relationship with North Korea, and lackluster enforcement of sanctions.
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Pushing The Nuclear Envelope: North Koreas Missile Diplomacy
Analysis: Fear and uncertainty of the Obama years could return as Kim Jong-un revives nuclear ambitions
North Koreas recent missile launches signal that the regime has reverted to familiar tactics to attract the attention of the US. Although the rest of the world will take little comfort from this return to normality, after a six-month pause Pyongyang last weekend launched what it claimed were new long-range cruise missiles capable of hitting Japan, followed hours later by the test launch of two ballistic missiles into the sea, apparently from a train.
Then came the clearest sign since its last nuclear test in 2017 that the North is not about to abandon its project to build a viable deterrent, with satellite images showing it was expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex.
North Korea continues to claim, to widespread scepticism, to have escaped Covid-19 infections. But border restrictions, sanctions and natural disasters have plunged its economy into its worst crisis for decades. In July, the regime even signalled that the virus had pierced its defences.
Well over two years since his last summit with the former US president, Donald Trump, the countrys leader, Kim Jong-un, is eager to revive nuclear diplomacy, this time with Joe Biden, to help his countrys ailing economy and boost his standing at home, according to North Korea watchers.
If that happens, the US and its allies are not without options, Easley said.
Trump The Paradoxical Peacemaker In The Nuclear
As is often the case with Trump, there is a measure of truth to his claims. He has been able to position himself advantageously as a peacemaker, and even dream of receiving a Nobel peace prize, like Obama before him. In 2019, he said that he had been nominated by Japans then Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and endorsed for the prize by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They praised Trumps initiative to enter into direct dialogue and hold summits with Kim, which was undeniably daring and unexpected. The June 2018 meeting in Singapore between the two leaders did certainly make an impact, seeming to be a remarkable and promising event, inasmuch as it put an end to the escalating verbal conflict that was set off in summer 2017. That was when Trump threatened to unleash fire and fury, stating that his general staff did not rule out taking military action against North Korea.
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Professor: The Way To Deal With North Korea Is With Diplomacy
1. First the President would receive word of an incoming attack and open the football
War with North Korea would only begin with Donald Trump receiving word of an imminent attack – either on the US or an ally.
The a military officer who is always by the presidents side, would open the nuclear briefcase known as the football.
A black leather case which is carried around wherever the president goes, the football contains an outline of the nuclear options available and instructions for contacting military commanders around the world.
Instructions also outline how to give out orders demanding the commanders to launch their missiles.
2. Trump must discuss his options with two top military officials
The president is the sole decision-maker but he must first consult two people to make that decision: the Pentagons deputy director of operations in charge of the National Military Command Centre or war room, and the commander of US Strategic Command.
However the resident can include whoever else he wants in the conversation – meaning daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner could in theory help with the decision.
3. The president then makes the decision, and the order is given.
To verify the command, the officers recite an unknown code. The president must then respond with a code printed on a card that he carries with him at all times, known as the biscuit.
4. Launch crews prepare to attack
Crews are trained to execute the order, not question it.
Experts: Biden Thought Likely To Reverse Trumps North Korea Policies
The Biden administration is likely to reverse the Trump administrations North Korea policies, but experts see little hope for significant progress toward denuclearization in the face of Pyongyangs determination to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
As the new Biden administration gears up to formulate policies toward North Korea, experts think the administration will probably return to the incremental approach to denuclearization that was the norm before former President Donald Trumps term in office.
The U.S. traditionally favored a step-by-step approach where Washington would grant series of small concessions or rewards such as sanctions relief or economic incentives as Pyongyang takes small steps along the trajectory of long-term denuclearization.
I think the Biden administration is likely to seek incremental dismantlement of North Koreas nuclear program in exchange for incremental sanctions relief, said Gary Samore, who served as the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration.
As we saw at the Hanoi summit, Kim Jong Un is not willing to accept a big deal for complete denuclearization in exchange for complete sanctions relief, said Samore, referring to North Koreas leader.
At the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, Trump proposed a big deal to Kim.
The days of a small deal or a big deal are almost certainly over, said Revere.
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