The mainstream media, and some officials who should know better, continue to allege North Korea does not yet have capability to deliver on its repeated threats to strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons. False reassurance is given to the American people that North Korea has not “demonstrated” that it can miniaturize a nuclear warhead small enough for missile delivery, or build a reentry vehicle for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of penetrating the atmosphere to blast a U.S. city.
Yet any nation that has built nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, as North Korea has done, can easily overcome the relatively much simpler technological challenge of warhead miniaturization and reentry vehicle design.Indeed, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un has been photographed posing with what appears to be a genuine miniaturized nuclear warhead for ballistic missiles. And North Korea does, in fact, have two classes of ICBMs—the road mobile KN-08 and KN-14—which both appear to be equipped with sophisticated reentry vehicles.
Even if it were true that North Korea does not yet have nuclear missiles, their “Dear Leader” could deliver an atomic bomb hidden on a freighter sailing under a false flag into a U.S. port, or hire their terrorist allies to fly a nuclear 9/11 suicide mission across the unprotected border with Mexico. In this scenario, populous port cities like New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, or big cities nearest the Mexican border, like San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, and Santa Fe, would be most at risk.
A Hiroshima-type A-Bomb having a yield of 10-kilotons detonated in a major city would cause about 200,000 casualties from blast, thermal, and radiation effects. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon having an estimated yield of 20-30 kilotons. The Defense Department assesses that on January 6, 2016, North Korea may have tested components of an H-Bomb. H-Bombs are much more powerful than A-Bombs and can produce much greater casualties—millions of casualties in a big city like New York.
The notion that North Korea is testing A-Bombs and H-Bomb components, but does not yet have the sophistication to miniaturize warheads and make reentry vehicles for missile delivery is absurd.
Eight years ago, in 2008, the CIA's top East Asia analyst publicly stated North Korea successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads for delivery on its Nodong medium-range missile. The Nodong is able to strike South Korea and Japan or, if launched off a freighter, even the United States.
In 2011, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lt. General Ronald Burgess, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear devices into warheads for arming ballistic missiles.
- On April 7, 2015, at a Pentagon press conference, Admiral William Gortney, then Commander of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), responsible for protecting the U.S. from long-range missiles, warned that the intelligence community assesses North Korea's KN-08 mobile ICBM could strike the U.S. with a nuclear warhead.
- And on October 7, 2015, Gortney again warned the Atlantic Council: "I agree with the intelligence community that we assess that they [North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland."
- In February and March of 2015, former senior national security officials of the Reagan and Clinton administrations warned that North Korea should be regarded as capable of delivering by satellite a small nuclear warhead, specially designed to make a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States. According to the Congressional EMP Commission, a single warhead delivered by North Korean satellite could blackout the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for over a year—killing 9 of 10 Americans by starvation and societal collapse.
Why do the press and public officials ignore or under-report these facts? Perhaps no administration wants to acknowledge that North Korea is an existential threat on their watch.
Whatever the motives for obfuscating the North Korean nuclear threat, the need to protect the American people is immediate and urgent:
The U.S. must be prepared to preempt North Korea by any means necessary—including nuclear weapons.
Launch a crash program to harden against EMP attack the U.S. electric grid to preserve American civilization and hundreds of millions of lives. This could be part of President Trump’s infrastructure modernization project.
Beef up national missile defenses. Revive President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the unfairly derided “Star Wars.” Space-based missile defenses could still render nuclear missiles obsolete and offer a permanent, peaceful, solution to problems like North Korea.
Ambassador R. James Woolsey was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1993-95. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.