North Korea Nuclear Program Reaches New Milestone

Listen to this CBS news interview with Gordon Chang, he is one of the few clear-eyed experts on the looming arms crisis in North Asia and potentially here in the U.S.

He noted that perhaps as early as the turn of the New Year 2018, it you believe a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment released last week, North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on a missile to hit the continental US. He believes that may be optimistic given the quickening pace of its missile technology progress given the two missile launches in July.

Chang attributes that to North Korea receiving outside assistance. He spoke of the similarity of the missiles launched last month to the Chinese submarine Jl-1 from mobile erectors supplied by China. And there are even more advanced versions that North Korea might have obtained from China. Chang also believes that China might have supplied key technologies for heat shield protection on re-entry and perhaps miniaturization of prototype of a warhead that were unveiled in February 216 by North Korea.

Yesterday and today I worked with my former co-host on the eponymous Lisa Benson Show laying out some items for a Times of Israel article on how adequate is our missile defense-not very and ‘sub par’ as a former defense official I respect told me.

Chang illustrated that during the interview in response to this question saying we may have a state of the art missile defense, but is it capable of taking down a swarm of North Korea ICBMs as we don’t have enough interceptors.

As to why are we so unprepared, Chang said the last two administration botched it. The Bush Administration abandoned an ABM treaty, while the Obama Administration took a different course. That is reflected in the niggling $7.9 billion in the FY 2018 Missile Defense Agency Appropriation request. See here.

The former defense official I spoke with about this said that what troubled him is that the U.S. lacks an exo-atmospheric missile system equivalent to the Arrow 3 jointly developed by Israel with Boeing and funded by Congress. The Missile Defense Agency had recently announced a test of the Arrow 3 system from Alaska in 2018. It rationalized the test because Israel doesn’t have the test area to demonstrate effectiveness against an Iranian ICBM. If you believe that then I know where there is a bridge for sale crossing Manhattan’s East River. The Arrow has been thoroughly tested here in the US and been deployed in Israel. It has already proven itself capable in knocking down Syrian missiles fired at Israeli aircraft coming back from a raid on suspicious cargoes being transferred at Damascus airport.

Chang also believes as we do, that the country lacks the political will to not only ramp up development, test, acquisition and deployment of systems like Israel’s Arrow. But he also addressed some important sanctions that were not passed by the US Security Council at last weekend’s emergency session. He gave these examples.

Sanctioning Chinese Banks. He said it took until June 29th to sanction a small fry’ Chinese Bank caught laundering money for North Korea. Chang contends that the Bank of China has been doing that for years referencing a 2016 UN report.

Stopping sea transport of North Korea missiles to rogue nations like Iran.

Increasing the cost for China allowing North Korean transport across its airspace to Iran.

In the end Chang believes that the option of a possible pre-emptive attack is still an option. Perhaps that is what was behind President Trump’s retort to North Korea’s obdurate defiance opposing international export sanctions and refusing negotiations on curtailing its nuclear and missile testing. Trump rattled the trading markets saying North Korea would be met with “fire and fury.” Meanwhile, as Chang says we lack the political will to protect this country and use existing tools to go after North Korea willing enabler, China.

North Korea nuclear program may have reached new milestone

U.S. intelligence now believes North Korea is capable of making a missile-ready nuclear warhead. This comes days after the United Nations voted for new…

CBSNEWS.COM

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