We cannot learn to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea because it is a pistol aimed at our heads by the North’s dictator Kim Jong-un, China’s dictator Xi Jinping and Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin, that sooner or later will go off.
The latest evidence North Korea’s nuclear missile program is being helped by Russia and China is their successful H-bomb test on Sept. 2. North Korean state media described their new thermonuclear weapon: “The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multifunctional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for superpowerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”
From the above, we can infer North Korea’s H-bomb is not a first generation thermonuclear device but much more sophisticated, what U.S. nuclear technologists call “dial-a-yield” so the power of the weapon can be adjusted to the mission, including a setting for enhanced gamma rays to make a high altitude Super-EMP attack. This is comparable to U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the 1970s.
The demonstrated yield of North Korea’s H-bomb is reportedly estimated by the U.S. intelligence community to be 120 kilotons (160 kilotons according to Japan), or about 12-16 times more powerful than the Hiroshima A-bomb, comparable in power to two-stage H-bombs of the United States.
On Sept. 4, North Korea released a technical paper “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing a Super-EMP nuclear weapon. This confirms warnings by the Congressional EMP Commission that North Korea has Super-EMP weapons.
In 2004, two Russian generals warned the EMP Commission that Russia’s design for a Super-EMP weapon had been “accidentally” transferred to North Korea, and due to “brain drain” Russian scientists were in North Korea helping its nuclear and missile programs.
There are many examples of technology transfers from Russia and China to North Korea, proving they have helped accelerate Pyongyang’s nuclear missile programs. North Korea’s nuclear missile threat is built upon Russian and Chinese technology.
Suffice to say the only nations with mobile ICBMs are Russia, China and North Korea — not even the U.S. has a mobile ICBM. Russia, China, and North Korea have Super-EMP weapons — but not the United States.
Even North Korea’s nuclear doctrine and concepts of operational employment, judging from their above statement and other evidence, is highly sophisticated, comparable to that of Russia, China and the U.S. The whole point of having “dial-a-yield” nuclear weapons technology is for a wide range of employment options for deterrence and war-fighting.
Some academics still insist on ignoring all the evidence and denying the North Korean nuclear missile threat has yet arrived. But it is time to face reality.
Unfortunately, North Korea’s own description of its nuclear missile capabilities has consistently been more reliable than U.S. intelligence community estimates. These estimates have wrongly assumed North Korea is working on its own, without help from China and Russia.
Recently, the U.S. intelligence community has become more realistic, reportedly estimating North Korea now has ICBMs armed with atomic and thermonuclear warheads that can strike the U.S. mainland. Just a few months ago, the intelligence community credited North Korea with none of these things.
Technology transfers aside, there has long been more obvious evidence China and Russia are colluding with North Korea.
Russia and China show no fear of nuclear-armed North Korea, even though they live next door. North Korea never threatens nuclear strikes against China or Russia, as it does regularly against the U.S. and our allies. China and Russia pay lip service to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but have often blocked sanctions against North Korea or cheated and made no serious effort to constrain North Korea — who is, after all, their nuclear missile proxy.
We cannot live with a nuclear-armed North Korea because it is a gun pointed at our heads by Russia and China to drive the U.S. out of the Pacific, into isolationism, and achieve world domination — all without nuclear risk to themselves. Moscow and Beijing have invested decades building their North Korean nuclear gun. In order to cow or kill the U.S. global policeman, if necessary, they will pull the trigger.
We cannot live with a nuclear-armed North Korea because accepting a Mutual Assured Destruction relationship with Kim Jong-un, after years of saying this is impossible, would destroy utterly U.S. credibility. Russia, China, and Iran would be emboldened to aggression to realize their most ambitious dreams in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It would be a green light for World War III.
We cannot live with a nuclear-armed North Korea because Kim Jong-un is a psychopathic murderer with delusions of Godhood whose risk-taking, and paranoia knows no limits. Sooner or later, by design or miscalculation, he will strike us.
We cannot live with a nuclear-armed North Korea because someday the evil regime in Pyongyang will fall, and they will want to drag us with them, down into darkness.
We must strike and disarm North Korea of at least those few nuclear assets that can threaten U.S. cities, before it is too late.
• Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commission and served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.