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North Korea Announces 3rd Nuclear Test, Anti-US Aims 597

Posted by timothy
from the state-vs-state-and-state-vs-man dept.
As reported by Reuters, The New York Times, and Fox News, among others, North Korea's nuclear saber-rattling has reached a new peak. North Korean officials have made clear their intent to conduct a third nuclear test (earlier tests were in 2006 and 2009), as well as further rocket launches specifically designed to demonstrate missile reach extending to the U.S. From Reuters' story: "North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea. 'We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States,' North Korea's National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA."
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North Korea Announces 3rd Nuclear Test, Anti-US Aims

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  • A strange game.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:14PM (#42681203)

    I understand the monetary interest North Korea has in appearing to be a credible threat to peace. But someone over there needs to look at the end of this game.

    If they launched something no more damaging than a dishwasher at San Francisco, their great defenders, the Chinese, would tell them "you're on your own." They have to know they wouldn't last 3 weeks against a U.S. military onslaught. Hundreds of thousands of good people on both sides would be dead, for nothing. No one in the US wants any resources North Korea has. There isn't even the weak excuse of fighting over oil (sorry, "energy security").

    It's just so tragically pointless.

    • by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:16PM (#42681229) Journal
      All I could think reading this news was "Do they want to get smashed flat?". If I were China, I'd already be backing away from them.
      • by Antipater (2053064) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:26PM (#42681323)

        If I were China, I'd already be backing away from them.

        They already are. All this hubbub is in response to a UN vote censuring them for the December rocket launch. The vote was unanimous - China did not back them up or even abstain.

        • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:40PM (#42681469)

          There could be many motives behind that, and it does not necessarily mean that China is upset about the launch.

          There could, for example, be value in privately encouraging an aggressive stance towards the US while publicly declaring a more neutral stance. For one, it doesnt burn all your bridges at once.

          • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:46PM (#42682291) Homepage

            They voted for the resolution, and a few years ago when NK was rattling sabers they actually cut off their oil supply.

            China is all for NK being a general pain to the US. They're not really all that eager to have a nuclear war break out on their border. I think both the US and China have given up on the whole expansion-of-communism vs containment thing - neither country really wants to have tens of thousands of people dying and billions of dollars spent because some kid wants to be a big shot in his third world nation. They'll fight over oil, but not pride.

            • by mug funky (910186)

              i think the only reason DPRK has had any support from China at all is that they're downwind from them...

          • As Charles Krauthammer once pointed out, one trump card that the US has vis a vis China is Japan. The last thing that China ever wants - for historical reasons - is to see Japan go nuclear, and they know that since Korea (both) too is a tradiitonal rival of Japan, if North Korea went full nuclear (in terms of launching abilities), the US could simply let Japan know that they have no problems w/ ending the WWII requirement that Japan never re-militarize. The last thing that China wants would be a re-milita
        • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:48PM (#42681553)
          Losing China makes me all the more nervous of the nature of the DPRK's behavior in the future. While in some ways frustrating, the fact that China was playing big brother with North Korea served the purpose of making them more comfortable. All on their own they're far more likely to switch from a temper tantruming baby, to an animal backed into a corner. Any military action on North Korea's part will result in grave consequences for South Korea.
          • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:23PM (#42681995) Journal

            At the end of the day it isn't because Beijing are big fans the NK regime. They likely hate the Kims as much as anyone. What wakes up the Chinese leadership in cold sweats late at night is the idea of a regime collapse (whether internal or external factors) and millions of North Korean refugees flooding over the border.

            The Chinese may be more willing to use open lines of communication to voice their disapproval of the regime's conduct than in the past, but until someone can come up with a credible plan to wind the regime down with as little violence and upheaval as possible, they will continue to back it.

        • All this hubbub is in response to a UN vote censuring them for the December rocket launch. The vote was unanimous - China did not back them up or even abstain.

          Betcha I know why.

          If war were to break out and China supported NK, we would technically be at war with China. Or at the very least consider them hostile and sever ties. Which wouldn't be in China's best financial interests at all, seeing as how they own over a trillion dollars of US debt. [about.com] If things went that way I think they would have a hard

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:28PM (#42681347)

        In the long run, they have three options:
        1) cave to foreign pressure, which eventually means the end of the regime
        2) rattle their sabers enough that they continue to be a threat worth placating/negotiating with, which keeps food coming in and the regime in place
        3) overplay their hand, and end up absolutely leveled by superior forces.

        They've done pretty well with (2) so far, but the trouble is that they actually have to keep hobbling themselves to make it work. If they're not seen as a genuine threat, they don't have a position to negotiate from. If they become an immediate threat, they will be destroyed. They have to occupy a medium position, where they are perpetually a few years away from being a major threat, but also constantly held back by the concessions they make in exchange for aid and trade.

        It's the aid and trade they want to keep the regime going. If the U.S. stops negotiating, they have to either put up or shut up, which either ends the regime with a bang or a wimper.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:43PM (#42682243) Homepage

          They see (2) more as Mutually Assured Destruction, i.e. protection from US invasion. Just like the US was willing to spend untold trillions on protecting itself from the USSR, because after all if you have no country nothing else matters, North Korea is willing to disadvantage itself to create a viable defence system.

          The threat to them is real. The US on their doorstep and declared them to be part of an "axis of evil". Afghanistan and Iraq have already been invaded, Iran is being actively attacked with cyber-weapons and trying to build up its nuclear deterrent as quickly as possible. It doesn't help that even the wider international community applies the double standard of congratulating most countries on their space programmes while condemning NK. Why would India be allowed such a programme when NK isn't? Why should the US for that matter? It just makes them more determined to succeed.

          That's the problem with this game. You can't choose to not play. The only reasonable move is to develop the capability to nuke the US, and MAD keeps the peace. Then the US starts talking about an ICBM shield again and you suddenly need a few hundred instead of just a few, and the game escalates...

          • by johanw (1001493)
            ICBM shield? Then perhaps NK is using the same tactic the US used to send the USSR into bancrupcy. Seems like the US is already far on its way into a financial collapse.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by butchersong (1222796)
        I have little confidence that the current US administration would do much of anything about a demostration of ability to strike North America. An actual strike sure they'd respond but dealing effectively with a posturing insecure little bully like N Korea? That isn't in their playbook.
        • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:04PM (#42681743)
          You speak like it would be so neat and simple to wipe them from the map. Have you forgotten about China, or the very strong chance they'd shell Seoul--home of some 24 million people--into rubble? As a red blooded American I suppose that doesn't fit your "bring it on", "put a boot in their *ss", "and to hell with the consequences" philosophy. Who cares about a few "slant eyes" right?
        • by jythie (914043)
          It isnt in the playbook of any administration. NK is a nuclear nation, you don't back them into a corner just to show your public how strong you are since, unlike the places we have attacked, they can actually hurt us.
        • by s.petry (762400)

          Do you re-write history, or just ignore history much? Did you forget already that there were no WMDs in Iraq? Hell, that's an easy target to pursue if you want to look. It's in their playbook if it fits their agenda. People took great joy in severely beating the shit out of the Iraq military, which was (yes, passed tense) the same technology as NK currently has (and yes, that is current tense). Let us not try and fool people. NK is a puppet, plain and simple. A puppet used by both the East and West.

          • You're wrong. Iraq was not a nuclear state, though it had aspirations to be one. NK is a nuclear state, and it's nuclear tests have been confirmed.

            And no, NK is not a puppet of anyone. Their independence is their most important political belief. NK has proven to be the least easily manipulated state in the world.

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:13PM (#42683265)

            Did you forget already that there were no WMDs in Iraq?

            But there were. Of course, they were inoperable (and all stamped "made in USA"). And Iraq had a working WMD program. Though the output was solely propoganda to make people think he had them because if he was shown to be as impotent as he actually was, there would have been a revolt without US intervention. And Saddam had "links" to al Quaeda because Osama called and asked to train in Iraq, and Saddam told him "no". That is an "association," even if Saddam didn't help.

            What gets lost in the news is that everything is true or false based on perspective.

            What I can't get is that Clinton told the truth under oath (causing no harm, truth or lie) and got impeached, and Bush lied to kill millions, including Americans, and that's ok, he was obviously too stupid to know what he was doing.

            It all goes back to the anti-intellectual slant in the US. The dumb aren't responsible for their actions, but the smart should be held to a higher standard.

      • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:32PM (#42681399) Journal

        Why is that? Right now, North Korea is a nice bargaining chip for China. The US doesn't want a direct conflict with China so cannot directly attack North Korea. When the time is right, China will reign in North Korea (for a time) in exchange for some concessions from the US. It is a poker game with an element of risk, but North Korea is a high face card in China's hand.

        • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:47PM (#42681545)

          Why is that? Right now, North Korea is a nice bargaining chip for China. The US doesn't want a direct conflict with China so cannot directly attack North Korea. When the time is right, China will reign in North Korea (for a time) in exchange for some concessions from the US. It is a poker game with an element of risk, but North Korea is a high face card in China's hand.

          China tried reining them in 2 months ago, when they were getting ready to do the missile launch test. They still fired the missile, which is why China voted in favour of the current round of sanctions.

          NK knows that China doesn't want US military presence on their borders, and that the US will not leave SK as long as NK is still a threat to the south. Thus, it's in NK's interest to be just annoying enough that SK still considers them a threat, but not annoying enough to trigger an attack. And yes, they are a credible threat to the south, with the amount of artillery they have embedded in the hills. They don't need nuclear weapons to do a lot of damage to the South, and are doing this for the attention.

          As long as they don't do anything that would cause China to attack them, they're safe. (personally, I think that's how it's going to play out in the long run, btw... they'll piss China off enough that China attacks them, possibly with UN support, and then the US leaves SK). That means that they can ignore China's warnings and chidings all they want, as long as they don't actually do anything that directly affects China. Sadly, their current administration appears to be aware of this.

          Interestingly enough, I was listening to a discussion on the radio this morning about Munchhausen syndrome, and can't help but wonder if NK's behaviour is a form of it.

    • by jythie (914043) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:02PM (#42681721)
      Thing is, if they were actually going to attack the US, using an ICBM isn't the best method anyway. They could just put a nuke on a fishing trawler and wander into any number of coastal ports.

      Neither side wants a war there, NK has a pretty good memory of how the civil war went.. so NK, SK, China, Japan, US... all are quite aware that actual hostilities would be a bad idea. Symbolic gestures on the other hand have value... not on the international scale, but on the local one.

      The military in NK is very powerful.. while people like to talk about the place like it is a simple dictatorship, the political reality is the Leader needs the backing of the generals, otherwise his power-base dissolves. One way to do that is build up the internal public image of military streght and show that he is willing to snub the world in favor of the generals. In essence, it is the Leader demonstrating his allegiance to his military and reasserting their primacy within the country.
      • by Solandri (704621)

        Neither side wants a war there, NK has a pretty good memory of how the civil war went.. so NK, SK, China, Japan, US... all are quite aware that actual hostilities would be a bad idea. Symbolic gestures on the other hand have value... not on the international scale, but on the local one.

        That's what one would hope. But with NK you can never be sure. Anyone old enough to have been an adult during the Korean War is well past the average life expectancy. You think it's bad that the U.S. labeled them as part

    • by Maudib (223520)

      Three weeks?

      If they ever actually launched something at the continental US it would be be a matter of minutes before all of NK was a glowing wasteland. There would be no build up/airstrikes/conventional assault, one of the dozen SLBM armed Ohio's would wipe NK out in 20 minutes.

      • The nearest NK ICBM bunker would be slightly more than 35 miles from Seoul. Please explain how these nukes work that could destroy such a bunker, but not kill most of the 2.4 million people in Seoul.

    • by jonadab (583620) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:51PM (#42682339) Homepage Journal
      > If they launched something... at San Francisco, ...
      > the Chinese, would tell them "you're on your own."

      Very likely, yes.

      If they launched a *Nuke* at San Francisco, China would actively participate in dismantling the DPRK.

      > They have to know they wouldn't last 3 weeks
      > against a U.S. military onslaught.

      I'm not sure exactly what the Kim family knows. If they had even a basic grasp of macroeconomics, for instance, they wouldn't be running the country the way they are. And economic differences are the main reason why they wouldn't have a prayer, militarily speaking, against a first-world power.

      Isolationism always leads to economic stagnation, and people who grow up under it usually are not fully aware of the extent to which the world is passing them by. When we think of the development of nuclear weapons, we think of the WWII era, which for us in the first world seems like a very long time ago, technologically; but that's because we've lived all our lives around modern technology. living in isolation, you don't necessarily *notice* all the changes taking place in the rest of the world. Time slows down, and the WWII era doesn't seem so different from today. Yes, the Kim family knows about some advances that have been made. They know about the internet, for example, and they have at least a passing awareness that cell phones exist; but those are just specific examples of a much larger trend, a trend they very well might not be aware of at all. Like I said, if they did understand this stuff, it's unlikely that they would be running the country the way they are. I would lay odds ten to one that Kim does *not* realize that low-income six-year-olds around with hand-me-down cellphones over here, and even if he did find out this fact, he would not understand its socioeconomic significance.

      Bring it around to warfare, we're so far beyond Hiroshima that we consider that kind of weapon primitive, and I would bet money that Kim doesn't understand this. Even as nukes go it was primitive (we developed H-bombs just a few years later, then submarine-launched nukes, and so on and so forth), and even the most advanced nuclear weapons have been thoroughly obsolete (as an indicator of real military power) for about a quarter of a century now. If we actually thought North Korea was considering launching a nuke at us, we would not respond with nukes of our own, because that would be clumsy and ineffective and old-fashioned and politically unpopular and have unnecessary civilian casualties, among other things. No, we would respond with much more precise and effective methods of warfare that have been developed in the intervening decades. We wouldn't do Shock and Awe the way we did in Iraq, obviously, because that was ten years ago, and limiting yourself to ten-year-old military technology isn't how you get to be the most powerful military on the planet. To you as a first-world citizen this is so obvious it probably wouldn't have occurred to you to even mention it; but to think that way you have to have a feel for how fast technology can develop, and you don't really get a feel for that when you live as a hermit, never leave your house, and barely ever receive any visitors.
  • Test just for show (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:15PM (#42681221)

    If they really wanted to deliver a nuke, they'd ship it in on a tramp freighter or submarine, land on some remote area of the coast, and walk the thing in somewhere. The whole missile thing is a national prestige exercise for domestic and regional consumption.

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      >If they really wanted to deliver a nuke, they'd ship it in on a tramp freighter or submarine, land on some remote area of the coast, and walk the thing in somewhere.

      Since you can't have a colonoscopy and cross a bridge in the US without getting pulled over by DHS, I'm *sure* the above is going to work. You'd much rather have one of your give nukes delivered in 2.5 months, over a route filled with inspections and radiation detectors, than have it delivered in 12 minutes via missle.

      • Splattering it across the Pacific Ocean doesn't do much to scare people.

        Just threatening to put it in a container full of Tupperware would be a more credible threat than launching something at us.

      • Um, did I say something about the USA?

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Since you can't have a colonoscopy and cross a bridge in the US without getting pulled over by DHS, I'm *sure* the above is going to work

        Just wrap it in a layer of marijuana, then it will get through without being detected.

      • Seriously, there is NO CHECKING of incoming freight into the US. You put the bomb in a shipping container, have it offloaded and shipped to some random warehouse, then put the bomb in a panel park and park it downtown $victim_city. There is no mechanism whatsoever to catch you if you do this. I have done work in ports. If the paperwork is straight for it to be tennis shoes it will get where it's going with nobody the wiser. Of course if you're NK your bomb is a piddly fizzly Plutonium gun bomb that doe
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:58PM (#42681667) Homepage Journal

        >If they really wanted to deliver a nuke, they'd ship it in on a tramp freighter or submarine, land on some remote area of the coast, and walk the thing in somewhere.

        Since you can't have a colonoscopy and cross a bridge in the US without getting pulled over by DHS, I'm *sure* the above is going to work. You'd much rather have one of your give nukes delivered in 2.5 months, over a route filled with inspections and radiation detectors, than have it delivered in 12 minutes via missle.

        An estimated 1,000,000 people secretly cross the border into the US every year; that's about 2,700 people per day.

        I fear your confidence in the success rate of American border agents is overly optimistic.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's mainly for domestic and regional.. and mainly domestic at generals(it's not like you need to tell this stuff to domestic peons..).

      but the funny thing about this is that the terms used make no sense at all.

      "Aimed at USA" "High level!" ... so wtf are they going to do? aim a rocket at usa and explode it at high altitude over the pacific as a training?

      • by glueball (232492)

        You mean like Starfish Prime?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime [wikipedia.org]

        "Starfish Prime caused an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which was far larger than expected, so much larger that it drove much of the instrumentation off scale, causing great difficulty in getting accurate measurements. The Starfish Prime electromagnetic pulse also made those effects known to the public by causing electrical damage in Hawaii, about 1,445 kilometres (898 mi) away from the detonation point, knocking out about 300 streetlight

    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:39PM (#42681463) Homepage

      Like most other nukes, it's a deterrent. If the US should decide to invade/liberate North Korea like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, North Korea would like the US to know they have nukes and are bat shit crazy enough to use them. Threatening to launch a nuclear missile is a little more immediate than threatening to smuggle it into the US covertly, which would also give away the "covert" part. They want to bluster about their ability to nuke San Francisco, if they actually did it I wouldn't expect two bricks to be standing in Pyongyang an hour later. The only reason they'd use it is because they're about to get deposed anyway.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:47PM (#42681541)

      Their nukes are the still huge. Think old 40s nuclear test stands. You aren't walking that anywhere. It would never fit in a sub.

    • That's just what I was thinking.

      You don't need a missile do deliver a nuke. Heck, you don't even need fission. Just grind up a bunch of radioactive material and use explosives to disperse it into the air. There you go, you've poisoned a city forever. Game over.

      Plus, if you don't care about high efficiency you have lots of options. Airburst = maximum damage, but you don't need to use a nuke as a bomb if you don't want to.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      The US could theoretically invade North Korea and shut down their ability to do something like that quite quickly. Having a missile that can reach the US means they're safe from invasion.

  • Good idea. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:16PM (#42681233) Journal

    Hey North Korea,

    That country holding the other end of your leash just voted for the Security Council resolution against you rather than abstaining as they have done in the past. Maybe before you talk a bunch of shit about lobbing a nuke at the US, you should worry about China giving that leash a big yank.

    Also, don't you guys only have enough nuclear material for 7-8 weapons? Please continue nuclear testing in your own country and use up all of your weapons grade material as fast as possible on making holes in the ground a lot bigger.

    Cordially,
    The Rest of the World.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by theNAM666 (179776)

      > Maybe before you talk a bunch of shit about lobbing a nuke at the US, you should worry about China giving that leash a big yank.

      Uh, hate to break it to you, but when North Korea yanks China's chain, the US major media don't typically care to report it. Korea and China are traditional enemies. Read the Chinese and Korean press, to see how often North Korea plays with China. Stop being a head-in-the-sand, reactionary US-American.

      And you can bluster all you want, nuke tests don't have to use the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:18PM (#42681265)

    The potential power to reach the stars, yet all anyone wants to do is point it at their neighbor and make threats. We will never escape these "Dark Ages" we're all living in.

  • "North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range."

    And Portland and Seatle are closer than San Francisco. And all in the continental US, last I checked. And I know-- warhead + rocket, but last I checked, belief was unclear on their ability to pair a warhead vari

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They can't make a high enough yield war head to deal with guidance errors fit on their rocket. These folks are too broke for that.

      Nor are they quite that suicidal. This is saber rattling for food aid again.

  • they had a blast.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:29PM (#42681355)
    When Kim Jong-Un came to power, I was soundly modded down for expressing skepticism about his being a reformer. I was insulted for being an "old man" stuck in a cold war mentality. Now he is dancing Pyongyang Style.
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:34PM (#42681409) Journal

    Its a pretty good bet South Korea and China won't step up. We simple broadcast in Korean on Voice of America that we are cutting off the assistance and why.

    The North Koreans can then do something about their government or stave. I think we should try hard to no care which they choose.

    • by PraiseBob (1923958) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:43PM (#42681497)
      But it is worth keeping in mind that starvation is why North Korea started rattling its sabres in the first place. A starving populace needed an enemy to blame, so the leadership started blaming foreigners for everything going wrong. They started down the nuclear path specifically to get attention from the US and other countries and basically using extortion to get food aid from their "enemies".

      Do we want a completely desperate nuclear power? Will the people turn against the leadership, or will they vent their rage against foreigners leading to millions of deaths?
    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:48PM (#42682307)

      They'll starve. There was a documentary made when some western doctors went to NK a few years ago to do things like cataract surgeries. After they got their surgeries and could see again, the first thing they did was turn to the closest picture of dear leader and begin praying to it. Literally praying to the picture as it being the representation of their Dear Leader who is a Man-God.

      I've since known people who have had dealings with NK as part of the UN. I've asked many of them if what we saw in the documentary was even remotely true and the answer was astoundingly yes. That among the population of the cities at least, that is how the leaders of the country are seen by the "loyal political" class. Even in the country side where there is mass starvation there is at least the appearance of that belief.

  • I mean, really, there's one or two countries rather close by North Korea who don't like them either. How about, instead of waving our allegedly big nuclear dicks all over the place, just plain ignore NK? Don't talk about them; don't talk to them. At some point they'll get bored and promise that their missiles are specifically targeted at $OTHER_COUNTRY.

  • personally, I'd load up the bunker-busters, get the Aegis cruisers out in the western Pacific, and overfly Nut Korea every half hour anybody starts scuttling around the missle fields there, fly over and dig until you find sanity.

  • so now they are aiming for the USA?

    watch out Russia!

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