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Defense experts say North Korea's claims are purely bombastic and delusional

Kim Jung-Un, supreme ruler of North Korea (NK) and son of late dictator Kim Jong-Il, loves Dennis Rodman and American culture, but he hates the American government after they cut off his imports of luxury items due to his insistence on nuclear weapons development.  Now the dictator's bipolar attitude towards the U.S. has seemingly taken, with Mr. Jung-Un scrapping a six decades old armistice with America and South Korea (SK).

I. Kim Jung-Un: "We Should Mercilessly Strike the U.S. Mainland"

In an appearance on the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the young dictator is pictured leafing through documents surrounding by four military officials.  Behind him is a map of his plans to "attack" the U.S. with missile strikes.  The map indicates missile trajectories stretching from NK to the continental U.S.

The KCNA report describes recent stealth bomber tests over South Korea by the U.S. as "an ultimatum that they (the United States) will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula."

attack plans

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attack plans (2/3)

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attack plans (3/3)
[Image Source: KCNA/Reuters (Top), bottom images modified by James Pearson of NK News]

The report continues, "If [South Korea and the U.S.] make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, (we) should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea."

II. Tensions Escalate

The threat is the latest in a series of jabs between the U.S. and the defiant Asian military dictatorship.  Following its decision to scrap the armistice, the U.S. conducted war games in SK.  NK responded by cutting a key phone line used as one of the only diplomatic channels between the North and the South.

In an apparent response to the line cutting, the U.S. proceeded with a test of B-2 Spirit stealth bombers over North Korea, which according to U.S. Forces Korea "demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will."

B-2 fly over
B-2 bombers fly over South Korea earlier this week. [Image Source: Sin Young-Keun/Yonhap]

Designed by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), the B-2 is a fearsome weapon far beyond anything in North Korea's arsenal.  Its specialty is in standoff missiles (cruise or short-range ballistic) -- missiles that are launched at distance to avoid counterattacking fire.  The B-2 is the only known aircraft capable of engaging in standoff missile strikes while in stealth mode (most nations use ships for this purpose).  The bomber has a crew of two and carries up to eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs.

Despite the back and forth Pentagon spokesman George Little called on NK to "dial the temperature down", accusing the nation of engaging in cycles of "provocative behavior".


He told CNN, "No one wants there to be war on the Korean Peninsula, let me make that very clear....  We have to deal with them. We have to be sober, calm, cool, collected about these periods. That's what we're doing right now.  And we are assuring our South Korean allies day to day that we stand with them in the face of these provocations."

China echoed the desire for peace, despite its growing frustration with its ally NK.  Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that peace was a "joint responsibility, remarking, "We hope relevant parties can work together to turn around the tense situation in the region."

III. Despite Helping Hand From Iran, Danger Remains Low, Experts Say

After several failed tests, North Korea did succeed last year in launching a rudimentary ballistic missile into space.  The key appears to be support from Iran; sources say that shipments from Iran have been headed to NK and Reuters reported that Iranian observers were present at the December rocket launch.  Some reports indicate that North Korea may have paid Iran nearly $1.3B USD for its engineering expertise, allowing it to turn around its floundering missile program.

North Korea has also been successful in conducting small-scale nuclear bombs tests.  

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, NK's February's nuclear test measured "approximately several kilotons" while the first nuclear test in 2006 was under 1 kiloton and the second in 2009 was about 2-7 kilotons.  Those bombs would likely be capable of causing significant damage if they reached a populated area, but are smaller than the 16- and 21-kiloton explosives that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (respectively) at the close of WWII.

Hiroshima
North Korea's nuclear weapons are about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the nuclear bomb the U.S. used on Hiroshima in WW II [pictured].

Since WWII, there has been no nuclear act of war.

North Korea may have the ability, theoretically to strike at the U.S. mainland, at least before you consider interceptor capabilities.  However, defense experts say a successful strike on the U.S. by the hostile Asian nation is unlikely.  

J
ames Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly told CNN in an interview, "Unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea's strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed."

Accuracy would be a likely issue, should North Korea attempt such an act of war.

Thus far the hostilities have not resulted in any direct violence.  However, digitally the nations are already at war in cyberspace. North Korea has been engaged in a war of cyber-attacks in recent weeks with the U.S. and its ally South Korea.

Sources: KCNA, CNN



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RE: Who is In Charge in North Korea?
By Pavelyoung on 3/30/2013 12:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
This is the way things stand.

The North Korean military consists of the following elements.

Armor:
2100 type 59 Chinese tanks that were built in 1958 - 1960
100 Sovie T-62 built in the 60s.
2000 various other WWII tanks
200 various unguided rocket launching vehicles

Fighter aircraft:
35 soviet Mig-29b
500 fighter aircraft built between 1950 and 1970

Strike aircraft:
600 bomber build between 1940 and 1970

Artillery:
19,000 artillery pieces located along their borders from starting at the border with China on their west coast and following that boarder all the way around to their border with China on their east coast.

Anti air:
11,000 anti air cannons
10,000 single shot man portable anti air missiles

Missiles:
1000 with ranges capable of anything from 160 km to 10000km They only have 2 of the missiles capable of going 10000km. The majority of their missiles have a range of 300 - 700 km.

Troops:
1.2 million active duty
4.6 million ready reserves

This information is available from various sources including the CIA fact book, Janes Defense publication, wikipedia and various other sites across the internet.

Nothing North Korea has would enable they to over run any part of South Korea. You have to remember that while North Korea does have a lot of soldiers, they are very limited with the hardware they own. I suspect that with the local US air power and combined South Korean and US troops we could hold them off long enough for the aircraft carriers to get back on site and after that they are finished.


By lagomorpha on 3/30/2013 10:55:50 AM , Rating: 2
Even without US intervention the South Korean military is better equipped and could defeat the North's. Trouble is all those artillery pieces and missiles are in range of Seoul and would make life very unpleasant in the region.


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