The President unleashed heated rhetoric on North Korea last week after reports that the country’s nuclear program had advanced and was now able to shrink warheads to put them on ICBM’s. When the President threatened “fire and fury,” the world’s hopes of a denuclearized North Korea slipped away.
The Intelligence Assessment
Last week, the Washington Post reported on two assessments made by the intelligence community about North Korea’s nuclear program. Contrary to popular belief, the evaluation was not made by the Defense Intelligence Agency, an agency that has gotten it wrong on North Korea in the past.
The intelligence community said it, “assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.” This assessment was dated the 28th of July.
An assessment made earlier in the month asserts that the North Koreans have 60 nuclear weapons, those estimates are higher than other reports in the press. When the two assessments are combined, they show a far more advanced nuclear program then the was previously thought.
Previous nuclear test failures may have been misleading. They seemed to indicate a failure on the part of the N. Korean program. Instead, these new reports show that the country skipped straight to the more advanced goal of making deliverable nuclear weapons.
The North Koreans Have Already Won
Without a shot fired or missile launched into enemy territory, the North Koreans have, in large part, already won the battle they were fighting. They are now closer than ever to being a fully functional nuclear power.
Any US thought that their program could be negotiated and the country denuclearized have vanished. The best hope may be a diplomatic reduction in tensions that allows time for the problem to be solved.
Diplomacy, contrary to the President’s rhetoric, is the only viable option. The US must communicate with North Korea. All Military options are catastrophic. North Korea has an unknown number of nuclear weapons, and the capabilities to reach the United States with those weapons.
It is unrealistic to think that a US strike could effectively take out every single one of those weapons before the North Koreans launched even one into Japan, or Seoul, or a major US city for that matter.
The US could rely on its missile defense system, but that would require it to function better than it was even designed. And really, if it misses just one missile, the results are unthinkable.