[ED] What if NK fires ICBM? - The Korea Times

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[ED] What if NK fires ICBM?

Trump likely to react in kind to provocations

If North Korea test-fired a mid-range missile Sunday to test the mettle of new U.S. President Donald Trump, it failed. Trump reacted as expected from his docile predecessor Barack Obama with a bit more of an impulse, as he called in visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to jointly rebuke Pyongyang.

Although the North named it "mid- to long-range" missile, it was likely the North's Musudan flew about 100 km more than the previous attempts but still splashed into the East Sea.

However, if it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as the North's leader Kim Jong-un had threatened to fire and Trump has vowed not to let happen, the aftermath could have been quite different. The young dictator has every reason to fear the worst.

There are two reasons to expect Trump to mount forceful steps, pre-emptive action included.

The first is Trump's huge ego that is associated with his temperament to ignore whatever others say and execute what he believes is right. Less than two months into his presidency, Trump has created havoc ― banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., ordering the erection of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and telling the world to "buy American and hire Americans," among others.

These were some of Trump's outrageous campaign pledges.

Regarding the North, this "me-first" mentality would likely drive Trump into doing what he had promised to do: prevent missile launches from taking place, although he didn't reveal how.

The second is the Trump administration has a will and the wherewithal to back up his pledge.

The U.S. has reportedly offered to station its latest stealth-guided missile destroyer, the Zumwalt, here, and is sending a battle group led by aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson toward the Korean Peninsula. Despite having a displacement of 15,000 tons, Zumalt is virtually invisible and inaudible with a radar cross section comparable to that of a fishing boat and the acoustic signature of a quiet nuclear attack submarine. The Carl Vinson would join the USS George Washington, based in Yokosuka, Japan. A total of 19 aircraft carriers are in service globally with the U.S. accounting for 10; and China and Russia one each.

With enough firepower, the U.S. has shown signs it is ready to stop the North's development of missiles that are getting sophisticated and powerful enough to threaten U.S. territories. The evolving U.S. plan that captures the greatest consensus was authored by William Perry, secretary of defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton, who first promoted the bombing of the North's nuclear facility in Yongbyon, moved to taking out of the North's ICBMs sitting on launch pads; although the current administration has now settled for midair interception of the missiles in their initial stages of flight.

How would the North react, if a missile was destroyed on the launch pad or intercepted shortly after liftoff? Could it retaliate with more launches or attacks on third countries, knowing that it would be overwhelmed by the concentration of firepower by forces from the U.S., Japan and Korea?

Kim Jong-un should be better off putting his plans for long-range missiles or nuclear bombs on ice for a while and think of his survival strategy against the U.S. now ruled by a leader more unpredictable than him.

Trump likely to react in kind to provocations

If North Korea test-fired a mid-range missile Sunday to test the mettle of new U.S. President Donald Trump, it failed. Trump reacted as expected from his docile predecessor Barack Obama with a bit more of an impulse, as he called in visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to jointly rebuke Pyongyang.

Although the North named it "mid- to long-range" missile, it was likely the North's Musudan flew about 100 km more than the previous attempts but still splashed into the East Sea.

However, if it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as the North's leader Kim Jong-un had threatened to fire and Trump has vowed not to let happen, the aftermath could have been quite different. The young dictator has every reason to fear the worst.

There are two reasons to expect Trump to mount forceful steps, pre-emptive action included.

The first is Trump's huge ego that is associated with his temperament to ignore whatever others say and execute what he believes is right. Less than two months into his presidency, Trump has created havoc ― banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., ordering the erection of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and telling the world to "buy American and hire Americans," among others.

These were some of Trump's outrageous campaign pledges.

Regarding the North, this "me-first" mentality would likely drive Trump into doing what he had promised to do: prevent missile launches from taking place, although he didn't reveal how.

The second is the Trump administration has a will and the wherewithal to back up his pledge.

The U.S. has reportedly offered to station its latest stealth-guided missile destroyer, the Zumwalt, here, and is sending a battle group led by aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson toward the Korean Peninsula. Despite having a displacement of 15,000 tons, Zumalt is virtually invisible and inaudible with a radar cross section comparable to that of a fishing boat and the acoustic signature of a quiet nuclear attack submarine. The Carl Vinson would join the USS George Washington, based in Yokosuka, Japan. A total of 19 aircraft carriers are in service globally with the U.S. accounting for 10; and China and Russia one each.

With enough firepower, the U.S. has shown signs it is ready to stop the North's development of missiles that are getting sophisticated and powerful enough to threaten U.S. territories. The evolving U.S. plan that captures the greatest consensus was authored by William Perry, secretary of defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton, who first promoted the bombing of the North's nuclear facility in Yongbyon, moved to taking out of the North's ICBMs sitting on launch pads; although the current administration has now settled for midair interception of the missiles in their initial stages of flight.

How would the North react, if a missile was destroyed on the launch pad or intercepted shortly after liftoff? Could it retaliate with more launches or attacks on third countries, knowing that it would be overwhelmed by the concentration of firepower by forces from the U.S., Japan and Korea?

Kim Jong-un should be better off putting his plans for long-range missiles or nuclear bombs on ice for a while and think of his survival strategy against the U.S. now ruled by a leader more unpredictable than him.



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