That the NORKs may have nuclear capable missiles comes as little surprise - since that's what they've been telling everyone with their fear-mongering bullying. How that might have been confirmed comes to us via Eli Lake's Yahoo! News piece, the poorly titled "How North Korea Tipped Its Hand"
After the North Korean launch, U.S. Navy ships managed to recover the front section of the rocket used in it, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation. That part of the rocket in turn provided useful clues about North Korean warhead design, should the next payload be a warhead rather than a satellite.
First off, "managed to" is a poor way to describe what must have been an impressive salvage operation.
Secondly, doesn't it give you pause about the level of intelligence we have on the NORKs? More from the article:
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a classified assessment last month saying that it now has “moderate confidence” that the “North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles however the reliability will be low,” South Korea has provided additional intelligence bolstering this conclusion, according to U.S. officials.
Intelligence suggesting North Korea could design a nuclear warhead has been building for many years. A.Q. Khan, the man considered to be the father of the Pakistani nuclear program, for example has said in interviews and correspondence that in 1999 on a visit to North Korea he was shown boxes of components for three finished nuclear warheads that could be assembled within an hour.
You'd think the intel we did have would have prompted a little quicker movement of Ballistic Missile Defense systems to the areas that could, in theory be reached by the DPRK.
On the other hand, perhaps there was the usual desire not to tip our hand on exactly how much we really know about what the NORKs are up to.
Okay, now we know of the threat. We now know that various sanctions regimes of the past have not stopped the DPRK from going nuclear. What should we do?
Do we continue to chat with the Current Kim-in-Charge? Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated a willingness to meet with the NORKs under certain conditions, as set out in the NY Times here
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States was prepared to reach out to Kim Jong-un of North Korea if he made the first move to abandon his nuclear weapons program.
“What we really ought to be talking about is the possibility of peace,” he said in a joint news conference on Sunday with Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister. “And I think there are those possibilities.”
Sketching out his approach in his meeting later in the day with reporters, Mr. Kerry said that before talks could begin, North Korea needed to take tangible steps to demonstrate that it was serious about denuclearization.
But it seemed unlikely that that precondition for talks would be met by North Korea, given the country’s announcements that it considers itself to be a nuclear state and its dedication to a “military-first” stance that channels resources to its armed forces.
You can read Mr. Kerry's remarks in context here
So – *** – hopefully North Korea will hear our words and recognize that for the future of its people and for the future stability in the region as well as on the peninsula itself, there is a clear course of action that they are invited to take, and they will find in us ready partners to negotiate in good faith to resolve this issue.
Okay. Talk with the NORKs some more.
What is the end goal for such talks?
For the NORKs to give up on nuclear weapons? Why in the hell would they do that?
Right now the North Koreans are a "one-trick pony" in a position to blackmail their neighbors because the cost of taking the current DPRK regime out is projected to be awfully high. Take away their nuke threat and they are a conventional land power with no place to go that doesn't place them on a path to a buzz saw.
So what do you end up with? Stuff like this from our SecState:
The North has to understand, and I believe must by now, that its threats and its provocations are only going to isolate it further and impoverish its people even further. And they have to understand also something that we have consistently made clear. President Obama has made it clear. I think I’ve tried to underscore the President’s policy as much as possible. And it is very simple: that the United States will do what is necessary to defend our allies – Japan, Republic of Korea – and the region against these provocations. But our choice is to negotiate. Our choice is to move to the table and find a way for the region to have peace. And we would hope that whatever considerations or fears the North has – of the United States or of others in the region that they would come to the table in a responsible way and negotiate that. We are confident that we can address the concerns with respect to their security and find ways together with China and the Republic of Korea and Japan and Russia and the members of the Six-Party Talks, we can find a way to resolve these differences at a negotiating table. I hope they will hear that and I hope they will respond to that, and any other choice by them will simply further isolate them in the world and make it clear to the rest of the world where the problem really lies here. That’s our hope.
Isolate NK further? Is that possible?
The NORKs must come to understand and truly know that any use of their nukes will end whatever life they currently enjoy.
Having a few nukes just means that any missiles the NORKs mount them on are "missiles of doom" - for the NORKs
They have understand that it is not asymmetric warfare we are discussing here when we talk a nuclear exchange.The U.S. will not fight back with one hand tied behind its back.
The U.S. has the power to totally obliterate the DPRK.
THE DPRK does not have the power to destroy the U.S. or its response capabilities.
My suggested talking point to the SecState are along the lines of,
If you try to launch missiles that threaten the U.S. or its allies, we will shoot them down and then we will come after you and yours without mercy.
Do you understand what 'without mercy' means in this context? We have the most experienced combat force on the planet and you will get to meet them up close and personal if you do something stupid.
Perhaps you have seen the American movie, "Dirty Harry?" You might recall Harry's words to the killer creep who threatened some school children - let me modify them for you to make my point clear:
I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking "Will the Americans fight?" Now to tell you the truth sometimes we send mixed messages in all this excitement. But being this is the U.S. military, the most powerful military in the world and they would be itching to blow you head clean off if you attacked us, you've gotta ask yourself a question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?