The Korean peninsula tensions have escalated to the point where North Korea has said it would counter the U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises beginning this weekend with “nuclear deterrence” according to Bloomberg News.
North Korea will “legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be staged by the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces,” the National Defense Commission said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Beginning 25-July, joint military maneuvers begin around the Korean peninsula with 20 vessels and 200 aircraft. The nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, and three destroyers will be among the show of force. The exercise will end 28-July.
The tensions began in March when a North Korean Yeono-class mini submarine torpedoed, split in half, and sank a South Korean border patrol ship, a Pohang-class corvette, ROKS Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. Subsequent evidence has apparently proven that the action was North Korea’s doing, although they have refused to admit it. North Korea has also been badly stung by UN sanctions since their 2006 nuclear tests.
Could a miniature submarine such as this one, the same that recently sunk the Cheonan, be capable of taking out a U.S. aircraft carrier, oil tanker, or other ship?
Is Kim Jong il’s history of appearing as an unstable dictator all a phony front? To instill fear that he is willing and capable of sacrificing his regime to sink a U.S. ship, to launch an all out attack, or to launch a nuclear weapon, so as to get what he wants? Or is he really that unstable? Chances are, it is all a front for political reasons. Kim Jong il must know the certainty of the magnitude of retaliation that would surely come his way, one would think.
It is unclear how many nuclear weapons that North Korea may posses. Some reports suggest as few as 12 or as many as 20 or more.
North Korea has a suite of missiles and ballistic missiles to launch them from, some with a range up to 4,000 km. I’ve also read a report to the U.S. Congress stating that North Korea could modify the Taepo Dong 2 missile to reach a distance of 6,700 km while carrying a 1,000 kg payload.
They also have Golf-IIs stabilization technology allowing for greater accuracy from their submarine and sea-launch platforms which opens the door for freighter launch capabilities. Some believe this poses the biggest threat to the U.S. In any event, only one nuke is required to change everything.
As the military exercises began, and according to a Reuters report,
North Korea’s National Defense Commission vowed to launch a sacred war against the United States and South Korea at any time necessary in response to the drills.
Is this all just more sabre rattling from the North? Have they gone too far this time with the sinking of the Cheonan?
We live in an increasingly dangerous world as more entities attempt to obtain or develop their own nuclear weaponry. Once equipped with nuclear weapons, seemingly unstable dictators or heads of government like Kim Jong il of North Korea or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are quite capable of changing the world, while they openly and clearly state their intentions.
One could say that they have less to risk and more to gain by leveraging their threats, or even carrying out their threats, whereas other nuclear powers like the U.S., China, or Russia have more to lose while their arsenals remain as a deterrent. At the end of the day, MAD, or mutually assured destruction, provides a seemingly adequate deterrent to “sane” nations to keep their nukes in their silos.
One uniquely qualified Reader indicated in Email correspondence that the real threat from North Korea is not that of a direct attack, but the possible distribution of a nuclear weapon or weapons to a terrorist organization to carry out their dirty work. The northern Korean peninsula would save themselves from becoming an assured ‘slag heap’, while at the same time enabling an attack on the U.S.
What can ordinary people do about it? Aside from participating in the process of your government to try and change things, all you can do for now is stay aware and become prepared. Don’t be lulled. If you live far away from these hot zones, you are still at risk, except in other ways. Since we live in a globally interconnected and interdependent world, an incident or conflict thousands of miles away will affect your life, most likely by way of prices and availability of certain products or resources. Heaven forbid if a nuclear detonation were to occur at any city in the world, all bets are off.
As usual here at the Modern Survival Blog (and lots of other related sites), we suggest for many reasons that you simply start by maintaining an inventory of extra food (and water if none is nearby) up to the amount that suits your risk tolerance. Store what you eat and eat what you store. Rotate inventory and it will never go bad. Food prices always go up and never down, so this will actually save you money. You will feel better having that bit of security blanket. How about trying your own little garden?
Update, 11-Jan-2011, Secretary Robert Gates warns of of North Korea missile threat to U.S. Says they may have obtained technical know-how from Pakistan to build smaller, more reliable nuclear warheads to be fitted to intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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