North Korea: Preemption or Destruction?
Topic: Nuclear Terrorism
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.
U.S.: North Korea Works on New Missiles
Thursday August 5, 2004 11:46 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States has determined that North Korea is working on new ballistic missile systems designed to deliver nuclear warheads and that it is testing the technology by proxy in Iran, a Bush administration official said Thursday.
Having agreed to a self-imposed test ban, North Korea is sharing technology information with Iran, which carries out missile tests on North Korea's behalf, the administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The missile program is based on Russian technology and has been conducted with help from Russian scientists - help the United States thinks may be continuing, the official said.
A leading military publication, Jane's Defense Week, reported recently that North Korea was developing two new ballistic missile systems that ``appreciably expand the ballistic-missile threat.''
A version of the missile capable of being launched from a submarine or a ship is potentially the most threatening, the weekly said.
Victor Davis Hanson has noted that in war a nation is generally faced with a choice between a bad option and a worse option. North Korea is the paradigm for this aphorism.
In a brilliant October 2003 essay
, Gabriel Schoenfeld observed that "If Pakistan is a stick of dynamite, North Korea is a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse."
Today the instant question is: does the US have the political will to extinguish that fuse?
The CIA estimates Kim Jong Il now has enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. If his nuclear ambitions remain unchecked, North Korea will soon produce dozens of nukes annually. It currently boasts a missile capable of hitting the US West Coast and is developing missiles capable of reaching any
US city. Yet, even if its psychopath dictator in fear of massive retaliation refrains from attacking the US, he likely will open a clandestine Nukes "R" Us outlet and sell to any rogue state or terrorist group.
Attempts at diplomacy and appeasement (most notably the Jimmy Carter-brokered Yongbyon Agreed Framework) have proved predictably disastrous. In October Schoenfeld observed that it would be "something of a miracle" if the six-nation negotiations succeeded, and recent developments confirm his prescience.
So, what to do? It is clear preemption, or at a minimum pervasive inspections under the credible threat of preemption, are the only reasonable strategies. Yet a preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear facilities would not be pretty.
In 1981 the Israelis destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor before it "went critical," killing only one person and creating no radioactive contamination. North Korean facilities, however, contain radioactive elements that would create some level of contamination when attacked. Moreover, some facilities are concealed deep inside mountains, making them difficult to destroy from the air with conventional munitions. And any attack would of course encompass only known
The US would certainly prevail in any resulting hostilities, but the price of extinguishing the "lit fuse" on North Korea would be extremely high. The price of allowing the fuse to burn to detonation would, however, be inestimably higher. As President Bush noted in a June 2002 address at West Point, the US
. . . can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today's threats, and the magnitude of the potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries' choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.
In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul reminds Christians that we will one day "give an account" of our lives before God's judgment seat. I expect believers alive today will be asked the following question:
In the early 21st Century, when communists and Islamists joined forces in a [successful?] attempt to destroy Western civilization with nuclear weapons, what did you do to stop them?
Personally, I'd like to be able to give a good answer.
Our leaders will take bold action only if they are sure the electorate supports it. Use the Ten Minute Lobbyist's Basic Contact Links
to inform President Bush, your Representative and Senators of your support for a preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear facilities, should the regime continue to reject demands for complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear weapons programs.
Posted by Tim
at 1:15 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 6, 2004 1:47 PM EDT