National Security

North Korea has 30 warheads and is quickly expanding its nuclear arsenal

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has expanded to 30 warheads and will grow further as Pyongyang produces increased quantities of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, according to estimates. In just three years, the North’s unpredictable leader, Kim Jong-un, will control sufficient fissile material to double that arsenal to as many as 60 weapons, says the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. To underscore this alarming increase, the U.S. estimated that North Korea owned just one or two nuclear weapons in 1999 and would have 10 or more by 2020, according to a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained by The Washington Times shortly after it had circulated privately last decade. “The bottom line is that North Korea has an improving nuclear weapons arsenal,” said David Albright, founder and director of the Institute for Science and International Security. “The last several years have witnessed a dramatic and overt buildup in North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.” The numbers show that North Korea is becoming a true nuclear power with the ability to hit its neighbors and, one day, the U.S. Analysts say the North’s objective is simple: Assure the communist state’s, and thus the Kim dynasty’s, survival and coerce U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.

U.S. intercepts 2 Russian bombers off Alaska’s coast

The U.S. military says it intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast. Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, says a pair of F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers on Monday. Ross says the intercept was “safe and professional.” North American Aerospace Defense Command monitors air approaches to North America and defends the airspace. Fox News said Tuesday the Russian planes flew within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Alaska’s Kodiak Island. It said the American jets escorted the Russian bombers for 12 minutes. The bombers then flew back to eastern Russia.

These Russian pilots were just putting their toe in the water…testing boundaries.  Our response was appropriate here.

Analysis: John Bolton hits it on head with North Korea

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton — you know, the guy leftists hated because he dared to stand strong in the face of Israel-hating globalists and anti-America elitists — offered up a pretty blunt assessment of the North Korea thang that went like this: Want to get rid of the nuke threat from the regime? Then take out the regime. Force a reunification with the South. Bleak — but true. Right? Seriously, there are some foreign leaders who just embrace their dictatorial powers to such extent that no amount of talking, no amount of diplomacy, is going to move them. And here’s a bit of a clue for the wimpy intellectuals of the world who spend so much time trying to see all sides of an issue that common sense goes out the window, truth fogs and moral equivalencies are drawn where they have no business being drawn: There is actual evil in this world — gasp. Yes, there is. And generally, evil doesn’t respond to a good talking to. That two-minute time-out? Ain’t gonna work here. Bolton gets that. Obama, as we all know, didn’t. “Because of eight years of the Obama administration doing nothing [in North Korea], under the guise of a policy they called ‘strategic patience,’ which was really a synonym for doing nothing, North Korea is perilously close to having the capability to put a nuclear device under the nose cone of an ICBM and land it on the United States,” he said in an interview with Breitbart. Thanks, Obama. No doubt, next up, Iran, the country that most benefited from the flawed, very flawed, nuclear treaty forged by Obama, over the loud opposition of Israel, Republicans and — well, the sane. But back to Bolton, on North Korea: “You ask what the long-term solution is. I believe this: North Korea will never be talked out of its nuclear weapons — not by diplomacy, not by economic pressure. People in North Korea live in a prison camp now. The regime doesn’t care about their economic well-being. They care about staying in power. A nuclear weapon is the regime’s ace in the hole to stay in power.” So the only way to deal? “I think the only long-term way to deal with the North Korean nuclear weapons program is to end the regime in North Korea,” Bolton said. “Reunite the Korean peninsula. … We need to bring them to the realization that reunification is going to happen one way or the other.” That’s a realization that is going to require a strong stomach from America. Why? Because it’s not going happen peaceably. “We can either do it the sensible way,” Bolton said, “or it will happen in a much more threatening way. I don’t pretend that’s easy, but that’s the real solution.” Agreed. It’s a rock and hard place foreign policy face-off that comes down to this, for America: Ignore the regime and pretend they’re not a threat — a la Obama. Or recognize the regime as a nuclear threat and prepare for a long haul, dig-in military operation that’s not going to end until the dictatorship is crumbled.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is exactly right, as usual.  And, thanks to Cheryl K. Chumley for that analysis…although not sure there would necessarily be a “long haul” if we got into a military engagement with the DPRK.  Reunification between the Koreas at some point is inevitable.  HOW that happens is the real question.  And, it would be best if it happened in a way favorable to our national security interests.  The President has said, “the era of strategic patience is over.”  Let’s hope so.  It’s time to put an end to the brutal, and evil Kim dynasty.

Hawaii Lawmakers Ask State to Prepare for North Korea Missile Attack

Lawmakers in Hawaii have asked state officials to update contingency plans and provide extra funding in anticipation of an attack from North Korea, amid escalating tensions between America and the communist state. Last Thursday, the state’s House Public Safety Committee passed a resolution demanding extra resources for any potential attack, which includes the redevelopment of shelters last used during the Cold War. Amongst other things, the resolution asks for the “restocking of fallout shelter provisions,” as well as calling on authorities to “conduct public awareness campaigns to ready the public for a nuclear disaster.” “At a time when we have this kind of saber-rattling and really blustering foreign policy, it does make people a little nervous,” said House Public Safety Committee Vice Chairman Matt LePresti. “They haven’t been updated since 1985. I was 11 years old when they were last updated. Many of the buildings that are on the fallout shelter list don’t exist anymore.” Many experts have warned that Hawaii may be the first point of any potential North Korean attack, with its location in the mid-Pacific ocean far more reachable than the American west coast. The remote island is located 4,660 miles from North Korea, while Los Angeles remains approximately 5,800 miles in distance. An analysis carried by the BBC suggests that North Korea possesses over 1,000 missiles, all with ranging capabilities. Some of their weapons, including the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, have an intercontinental range, meaning they can travel up to 5000 miles, just short of the American coastline. The request comes amidst rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, with Donald Trump warning last week that he was sending “an armada” into the region to fend off any potential threat. Meanwhile, on Sunday, North Korean forces held a military parade to celebrate the 105th birthday of former leader Kim il-Sung, who remains the country’s “eternal leader.” However, reports from South Korea also indicated that the country’s planned missile launch, intended to be a show of strength, ended in failure. On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Korean demilitarized zone, also the border between South and North. In an interview with CNN, Pence said that “the people in North Korea should make no mistake that the United States of America and our allies will see to the security of this region and see to the security of the people of our country.”

Rob O’Neill Defends MOAB: ‘You’re Dealing With People Who Only Understand Force’

After U.S. forces used “the mother of all bombs” on an ISIS tunnel complex in Afghanistan, some in the media have criticized the military’s decision to deploy its largest non-nuclear weapon. “Using ‘mother of all bombs’ in Afghanistan to kill 36 militants – at $450,000 each – will not change its reputation as a white elephant,” a Guardian op-ed argued. Rob O’Neill, the man who killed Usama bin Laden, said those who are questioning the use of the 21,000-pound ordnance are missing the bigger point. He said it wasn’t just about taking out ISIS militants or disrupting their underground tunnel system, it also delivers a psychological blow to our enemies in the region and around the world. O’Neill said the strategic effect of the bomb is also important, since the military used to send troops into the cave and tunnel system, which was extremely dangerous. “I don’t think you can put a dollar amount on somebody’s legs, on an American soldier’s life,” he said, noting that just a week ago a Green Beret was killed in the area. He added that this might convince some enemy combatants in the area to actually “lay down their weapons.” “You’re dealing with people [who] only understand force,” he explained. O’Neill also praised President Trump for giving military commanders the latitude they need to deploy weapons like this, something he didn’t see under the Obama administration. “I love the fact that a general made this call,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Agreed, Rob!  Rob is a warrior and understands it.

Japan Suggests North Korea May Have Sarin Gas Missiles

Satellite photography reportedly shows that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site for another detonation, probably timed to coincide with celebrations of national founder Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday this weekend. Reuters reports that North Korean officials told foreign journalists in Pyongyang to prepare for a “big and important event” on Thursday. This proved to be a considerable letdown when the journalists were merely conducted to the opening of a new street in the middle of Pyongyang, but it is always possible the North Koreans are playing coy with journalists. The report of activity at Punggye-ri comes from monitoring group 38 North, which said the site was “primed and ready” after detecting the movement of vehicles and personnel. The sort of activity they described seems consistent with preparation, rather than a frenzy of activity that would indicate an imminent detonation. 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez, who has a good track record of predicting Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, told CNN the activity noted over the past six weeks is “suggestive of the final preparations of a test.” In particular, 38 North analysts thought the end of excavation and water pumping at the site were indicators that it could be put to use soon. Fox News cites South Korean officials saying they “saw no signs that North Korea was preparing any sort of provocative actions,” although they acknowledged that North Korea has demonstrated the ability to conduct missile tests with very little warning. Japan added another reason for concern, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a session of his parliament, “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.” Sarin is the nerve agent suspected of deployment in the chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was allegedly killed with a different chemical weapon, VX, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February. Interestingly, China’s Communist Party organ, the Global Times, published an editorial calling on North Korea to suspend its nuclear activities, coupled with a promise that China will “actively work to protect the security of a denuclearised North Korean nation and regime.” China has previously promoted a deal in which North Korea would suspend nuclear tests if the United States agreed to halt military drills with South Korea, but there was little interest in the deal from either side. In fact, the United States Air Force launched a surprise exercise of air power in Japan on Thursday, which was seen as a demonstration to North Korea of what the Air Force’s largest combat-ready wing can do on short notice. China is still advocating for a non-violent resolution to the North Korean nuclear situation. The Trump administration is talking about using unprecedented sanctions to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, potentially instituting what one official described to Reuters as “essentially a trade quarantine on North Korea.” The measures under consideration could include “an oil embargo, banning its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang,” according to the officials who spoke to Reuters. Other possibilities include interdicting North Korean freighters, prohibiting the use of North Korean contract labor abroad, implementing a global ban on coal, or banning North Korea’s seafood exports. Some of these steps would not require U.N. approval, which means China would not be able to veto them. China has been remarkably tough in enforcing its own punitive ban on North Korean coal exports, but Trump administration officials worried Beijing might have gone as far as it’s willing to go. It is considered something of a gamble to menace Chinese interests with the secondary effects of tough sanction against North Korea and hope it inspires them to bring Pyongyang to heel, instead of alienating the Chinese. “China has always opposed the use of unilateral sanctions in international relations and is firmly opposed when such unilateral sanctions harm China’s interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing.

Russia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missile

The race to develop an unstoppable and unbeatable weapon capable of defeating all the military defense systems in the world is getting much too close for comfort. According to multiple reports, Russia is expected to begin production soon of its 3M22 Zircon, a hypersonic missile that will travel 4,600 miles per hour — five times the speed of sound — and will have a range of 250 miles. That’s just three minutes and 15 seconds from launch to impact. Guided hypersonic missiles will be more accurate than traditional ballistic missiles and could conceivably be armed with nuclear warheads, according to the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor. And they’re coming, whether we like it or not. And they’ll be on our doorstep sooner, not later. “State tests of Zircon are scheduled for completion in 2017 … and the missile’s serial production is planned to be launched next year,” the Russian news agency TASS reported last year, quoting sources. And last month, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited a source familiar with the Zircon project who said the 5-ton missile is likely to be tested for the first time this spring — earlier than the projected date of 2018 — “from a sea-based platform.” The International Business Times (IBT) reported that the U.S. Navy is concerned the missile could be fitted to a Russian warship. Hypersonic speed is the stuff of science fiction. As explained in IBT: “The missile employs revolutionary scramjet technology to reach its hypersonic speeds whereby propulsion is created by forcing air from the atmosphere into its combustor where it mixes with on-board fuel – rather than carry both fuel and oxidizer like traditional rockets. This makes it lighter, and therefore much faster. “It uses no fans, rotating turbines or moving parts – just an inlet where air is compressed and a combustor where the air is mixed with fuel. Fewer moving parts also means less chance of mechanical failure. “The Zircon … would be capable of destroying the world’s most advanced warships and aircraft carriers in one strike and could be put into action by 2020.” The Zircon will have a radar target seeker and an optical-electronic complex that can trace and detect targets, also at hypersonic speed, according to the Strategic Culture Foundation. “It will greatly reduce the reaction time that [Western military units] have to deploy their own defenses and counter-measures,” Tim Ripley, who covers defense issues for Jane’s Defence Weekly, told the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He said the Zircon could render Western anti-aircraft defenses “obsolete,” and he warned that Russia appears far ahead of the U.S. in development. “In the public domain, the West seems to be quite a long way behind,” Ripley said. “But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some black, super-secret project run by the U.S.’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.” In fact, the U.S. may not be behind at all. According to Stratfor, U.S. Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello announced in late February that the Air Force plans to have operational prototypes of its own hypersonic missile ready for testing by 2020. And Stratfor forecasts that the U.S. and China will likely have the first operational long-range hypersonic missiles in their arsenals by 2025, years ahead of Russia. India is also working to develop a hypersonic missile. According to India Today, India is developing its BrahMos II missile in collaboration with Russia, and it will use the same scramjet technology as Zircon.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…