by Jim Rickards, DailyReckoning:
On Tuesday North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Some analysts believe the missile had a range of at least 3,400 miles.
That would bring the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii and possibly the major city of Seattle within range.
North Korea claims the missile could carry a large nuclear warhead.
The U.S. and South Korea responded with an announcement that they had conducted their own ballistic missile drill to counter North Korea’s gambit.
We’re heading toward a war with North Korea. It’s fairly obvious at this point, unless either North Korea agrees to cease its nuclear program or the U.S. allows the North the ability to directly threaten the continental U.S.
Neither possibility is likely.
The U.S. national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, along with the secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, have both given very clear indications on this. Meanwhile, two carrier task force groups have been dispatched to the region.
And then President Trump said earlier today that he’s considering “some pretty severe things” to respond to North Korea’s provocations.
When President Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April, he sought China’s help to pressure North Korea into scrapping its nuclear weapons program. In exchange for that assistance, Trump said he wouldn’t label China a currency manipulator or initiate a trade war.
It seems President Xi indicated he needed time to deal with the difficult North Korea, and that Trump may have given him 100 days to arrange a deal with North Korea.
Well, those 100 days will be up on July 15. And North Korea has not shown the slightest intention of backing off its nuclear program. If anything, it’s accelerating it.
Right now there’s no doubt that the greatest threat to world peace in general, and the U.S. in particular, is coming from North Korea.
“U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that North Korea’s actions were ‘quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution’ and that the United States was prepared to defend itself and its allies,” reports Reuters.
“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” she added.
North Korea has made great strides in short-range and intermediate-range missiles and, as Tuesday’s test proves, is working toward an ICBM that could reach West Coast cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Ultimately, much of the rest of the United States could be vulnerable.
North Korea also has a store of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) that can be converted into nuclear weapons. It has also made progress in the miniaturization and ruggedization of those weapons so they can be converted to warheads and placed on the missiles.
When these technologies are perfected and merged, North Korea will be able to kill 1 million residents of Los Angeles with the push of a button. This nightmare reality is probably just three years away.
The only remaining element of the nightmare scenario is intent.
On that score, North Korea has left no doubt. Kim Jong Un has threatened to reduce the United States “to ashes” with nuclear attacks.
The U.S. has taken none of this lying down. Echoing U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that diplomatic efforts to contain North Korean ambitions over the course of the Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama administrations have failed, and the time for diplomacy is past.
Tillerson made it clear that the U.S. would engage in pre-emptive warfare with North Korea to stop their nuclear program if necessary. Tillerson also refused to rule out supplying nuclear weapons to U.S. allies including Japan and South Korea in order to deter North Korea on a regional basis.
There is no doubt that North Korea and the U.S. are on a collision course and headed for war unless North Korea relents, which seems unlikely, or the U.S. can develop a superior technology to neutralize the North Korean threat.
The most important point is that the North Korean threat to destroy Los Angeles will not be allowed to go forward. No president can gamble Los Angeles on the intentions of a mad dictator like Kim Jong Un.
This means that either war will occur or an effective means of neutralizing the threat will be developed in the next year or two at the most.