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The Military United States Politics

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

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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Good idea. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:29PM (#42681351)

    An ignorant fucking american.


  • 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.
  • Re:Good idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:30PM (#42681375)
    The more I observe, the more I come to the conclusion that all of politics is a tragic high school shouting contest. North Korea is just somebody's obnoxious eight year old brother that nobody wants to claim.
  • by butchersong ( 1222796 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:32PM (#42681391)
    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 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 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 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 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 medcalf ( 68293 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:41PM (#42681479) Homepage
    Youth always discounts experience.
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:42PM (#42681489)

    Why would the US even need to send in ground troops?

    US ground troops are already there []. Bombing would almost certainly escalate into a ground war, with an NK offensive through the DMZ towards Seoul, which is only 35 miles to the south.

  • 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 khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:54PM (#42681613)

    So the guy who had Osama killed is not going to do anything about the latest Kim to rule NK if he steps over the line?

    I seriously doubt that.

    With bin Laden, Obama just had to approve the plan. No real risks would be taken since bin Laden is just a thug in hiding with little power. Here, if Kim Jong-un steps "over the line", any world leader has to consider what consequences would come, such as a bloody attack on South Korea or some sort of nuclear strike.

    Obama just doesn't strike me as the sort of politician who likes to take such risks.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:54PM (#42681619)

    Look what he did after the Benghazi terrorist attack. I expect no more than a finger wag with the "and next time we mean it" rhetoric.

  • 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 MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:01PM (#42681697)

    Obama carried out a black-ops strike in a supposedly "friendly" country without informing them at all. That was incredibly brazen. He regularly conducts drone attacks, though it appears always with approval of the countries involved. Nevertheless, it is a fairly aggressive posture. He wasted very little time at all going into Libya.

    He might not talk like Bush, but he acts a lot like Bush. The main difference seems to be European acceptance. I don't see anything to make me doubt that he'd respond appropriately.

  • 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 Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:20PM (#42681969)

    They surely know that we can.

    If a kid with down's syndrome comes up and punches you in the face, you don't beat the shit out of him in response. You gain nothing by such a hollow victory, and you cause more trouble for yourself than you solved.

  • 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.

  • by TheMiddleRoad ( 1153113 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:34PM (#42682121)

    International politics and child development are not even close to the same thing. It's scary that you even make a comparison.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:43PM (#42682243) Homepage Journal

    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 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 Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:49PM (#42682319) Homepage

    Don't really see the point in that. Everybody already knows the US can do this. The only thing a demonstration might show is that our targeting isn't as good as everybody thinks.

  • 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.
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:55PM (#42682389) Homepage Journal

    this is correct

    china may opt for regime change with its involvement (or spearheaded by it), but not unification

    china will never allow korean unification. the only reason that happened in germany is because the USSR fell. china is not falling, it's rising

    so as long as china continues to rise in power, the dream of korean unification is impossible

    china will not freely accept a united korea allied with the USA on its border

    the geopolitical status will be preserved

  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @03:01PM (#42682467) Homepage Journal

    The main difference seems to be European acceptance.

    you can do absolutely anything you want in the world as long as your allies agree. because the will of the world is the will of the world. nothing has been violated if a thug like osama bin laden is taken out, no one serious on the world stage stands with this thug. pakistan can go fuck itself, because pakistan had elements of its government protecting bin laden

    and the reason north korea is so advanced nuclear wise is because of a pakistani scientist who copied dutch technology when he was in the netherlands, then sold it to north korea, iran, libya, and other regimes. this scientist is seen as a hero in pakistan. so fuck you again, pakistan []

    "thanks" pakistan

    why are we allied with this country?

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @03:35PM (#42682869)

    The stateless Al Queda managed to hurt the US just by hi-jacking a few planes. Most certainly NK could hurt the US. Just not necessarily with an ICBM.

  • by reluctantjoiner ( 2486248 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @03:55PM (#42683059) Homepage
    It will be 2 million people needing food, shelter, and likely medical attention. In one place, at the same time. I'd expect that it would test the logistics of any well organised country.
  • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:09PM (#42683213)

    Evacuated where, exactly? We're talking about 20+ million people. That isn't just 20 million able-bodied people, it's young, old, sick and healthy alike. Hell, we couldn't even get New Orleans (population 1.3 million) evacuated properly before Katrina and the ones that did had hellish experiences for weeks.

    Be realistic. Even if you got half of Seoul evacuated (very unlikely) you'd still have no place to house them.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.