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24 January 2013


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Medicine Man

In the event of a war with North Korea, I am told that either the US Air Force or the SK Air Force could neutralize all of NK's delivery systems for their NBC weapons quite quickly. The great mass of fortified artillery within firing range of Seoul is the main problem. Does the US have a good counter to this threat and what would be the cost of defeating the North Koreans?



That depends on how many we are willing to kill. pl


The USSR had thousands off nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States, and the US responded with a diplomatic mixture of deterrence and diplomacy. Which worked incredibly well, resulting in near-total global dominance for this country.

Is tiny, impoverished North Korea with its one or two bombs and one or two missiles really so more deadly a treat than the Soviet Union that it can't be managed in the same successful manner?

Medicine Man

I think I see your point. My question was a bit too broad. At any rate, short of exceptional provocation, I don't think overthrowing the NK government is on the table.

A more specific question: If casualties to SK / US personnel and South Korean civilians were the US's only concern, do you think the US could eliminate NK's artillery quickly enough to limit the carnage in the south? It seems like a very precarious situation to me, with the North basically holding the South hostage.


How does Japan respond?

"Mad" Mike Adams

It appears to me, to quote the Bard, "Much Ado About Nothing"..., except a little theater by all sides. The North Koreans have children so they are not likely suicidal. However, they are a little pissed at some new sanctions to the point they are theatrically rattling a few future maybe sabers.

So far they have had two underground nuclear tests with the last one generously estimated in the 2.2 kilo ton range. Their missiles have proven well short of the range needed to commit suicide by hitting the US, they have no re-entry vehicle and as to accuracy, they have proven they can hit the Pacific Ocean in a few tries.

Lastly, I think Orwell has already covered the "Little boy crying wol..., er, Madman!" angle.

"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac."
--George Orwell--



NK is not the USSR. With the Soviets it was the red SIOP or nothing. Are you Canadian? How much risk will you assume for an American city? pl


"...will bring a change in US policy."
You mean "should bring a change?"

I'm not too sure that such a launch would bring more than hot air from that waste of oxygen on the Potomac.

BTW, by the time Hagel gets done with the budget, the US may not have much more than hot air.
Obama gives national security slightly more attention than picking out John Boehner's birthday present.


That's the same faulty argument used to rationalize Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

No matter how venal corrupt and evil the rulers of the USSR were, they weren't nuts.
Do you really think that either NORK or Iran is ruled by people possessing all 52 cards?

Then there is everybody's favorite scenario:
A nuke on a freighter parked in Newark Harbor.
ONE weapon; that's all.



IMO you misjudge Hegel, and I think the Iranians are far more rational than you do. in any event they are a threat to Israel, not us. NK on the other hand, not so much. pl

Alba Etie

What where the agreed to terms that Clinton & Bush reneged on-and could these terms be reimplemented in a New Framework ? And is it likely this newly acquired North Koreans capability could trigger a nuclear arms race with the neighbors ie Japan & Australia ? It would seem that the PRC would not want an nuclear armed Japan . And as an aside did the Schmidt /Goggle /Richardson visit have any impact on relations with our newest Dear Leader in Pyonyang ?

Neil Richardson


"A more specific question: If casualties to SK / US personnel and South Korean civilians were the US's only concern, do you think the US could eliminate NK's artillery quickly enough to limit the carnage in the south? It seems like a very precarious situation to me, with the North basically holding the South hostage."

Several years ago, I had posted here on what various possibilities were regarding a potential military confrontation with DPRK. First, a general invasion seems highly unlikely at this point (by this I mean a "bolt out of the blue" scenario against which the EUSA and ROKA has been preparing for over 50 years). The KPA no longer possesses the ability to achieve a decisive breakthrough via the usual corridors of invasion. Second, could there be a conflict spiral either arising from preemptive strikes against North Korean targets (e.g, nuclear facilities, Musudan-ri, etc.)? A quick answer would be yes and very likely during the power transition period in DPRK at this point. Third, could a limited military response by the ROKA after another North Korean provocation set off events which could again result in a conflict spiral (e.g., a KPA corps commander decides to escalate on his own by sending a salvo after ROKA counterfire along the DMZ)? Yes, it's possible though less likely than after a US/ROK preemptive strike in the second scenario.

As for your first question, I'm not so certain that the 7th AF and ROKAF could easily eliminate most of the Frogs, No-Dongs, Scuds, etc. unless we preempt them during a major crisis. Even then 240mm MRLs (Juche 100s) would have enough range to deliver chemical agents. We'd also have to assume that the Koksans would also be capable as well. The operational demand for sortie rate would rival what the coalition forces achieved during the Gulf War (IIRC around 2500 sorties per day). Of course in order to do this , you have to assume that the 7th AF would have received substantial augmentation in addition to perhaps three carrier strike groups in addition to George Washington at Yokosuka (for two decades the USS Midway had been forward deployed which I found amusing as I'm fairly certain the Romans would have appreciated it). The key problem is that during any major crisis, these launch platforms would be dispersed in addition to the usual concerns about operational security re: ROKAF.

Regarding the "sea of fire" which is often heard in KCNA broadcasts, the reality is that most of their tube artillery is out of range unless the KPA achieves a breakthrough and can deploy them 25-35km south of the DMZ. If they're on the move, they are obviously vulnerable to air strikes and counterfires. Common estimates are the KPA possesses around 700 of the Koksans and 240 MRLs. Looking at their range fans from known hardened artillery sites, I'm not certain if they'd reach south of the Han without coming out in the open which would instantly turn them into counterfire magnets.

I'll add more regarding this later as I have to run, but it doesn't seem to me that the sea of fire would be something that either the KPA could achieve or that they'd attempt early in a conflict cycle. They might lob a chemical round to cause massive panic, but the likely target of any chemical weapons attack has been and will likely remain Osan.


Alba Etie said in reply to Richardstevenhack...

"What where the agreed to terms that Clinton & Bush reneged on-and could these terms be reimplemented in a New Framework ?"

This might answer your question;


Bababk Makkinejad


What is preventing the United States from signing a peace treaty with North Korea and thus end the state of war there?

Does any one know?

Medicine Man

Thank you for the reply, Mr. Richardson. This is very informative.


This link is very informative especially for anyone like me who knew essentially nothing about the negotiated Framework.


Alba Etie

thank you


Bababk Makkinejad said...

"Does any one know?"

The tiny group of very small minded people (FP team, neocons, et al) simply do not have any positive vision for the world. yet, they wish to be the master!


Tell china to fix north korea


I hope you're right.
Not wearing those rose colored glasses that seem to be standard issue inside-the-beltway.


It's probably North Korea itself that has been blocking a formal peace treaty. Whatever legality of war and peace might be, there is and has been a de facto state of peace there for decades, with which everyone is more or less comfortable with, at least until now. In contrast, North Koreans have been making a long list of demands in return for the "privilege" of signing a formal peace treaty with them. Given that they themselves are offering nothing other than just maintaining status quo, a formal treaty hasn't been worth it. What they are trying to do now is to make the status quo sufficiently uncomfortable so that others (us, Japan, and South Korea) might meet their demands, in return for their promise not to cause more trouble. Of course, since there is no good reason for any of these countries to trust them, it remains unclear any kind of formal agreement would be worth the paper it is written on.

Neil Richardson


"What is preventing the United States from signing a peace treaty with North Korea and thus end the state of war there?"

First, the proliferation and missile technology transfer concerns limit what the United States could do at this point without adopting a high risk strategy. There is a bipartisan consensus (one of the few remaining ones) that a nuclear DPRK is unacceptable. It is an almost an axiom held by both parties at this juncture that DPRK will sell both the nuclear and missile technology to highest bidders.

Until now, the US has placed constraints on ROK's desire to rapidly upgrade its long range missile development (the guideline agreements in 1979, 1990 and last year). We have been very careful to limit the range in order to make sure that they do not have a reach which would include Beijing, Tokyo, etc. The assumption underlying this long held position has been that such a development would unleash an arms race in East Asia.

In addition, ROK has been chomping at the bit to obtain a 1-2-3 agreement comparable to the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Their stated reason is commercial, but the obvious implication would be that ROK would become a nuclear-ready state in terms of potential weaponization. If the US were to withdraw the EUSA and normalize relations with DPRK, it's possible that ROK could proliferate. Park Chunghee had sought this goal until the US stopped the program. It's unclear to me as to what Park Geun-hye's views are at this point. Obviously ROK has the resources to rapidly develop a formidable missile program as well as nuclear weaponization program. At the same time, Abe Shinzo's accession to power further complicates matters especially in light of the LDP's proposals to amend Article 9.

Before DPRK fired a Daepo-dong over Japan in 1998, the US was slowly inching toward normalization with DPRK. Even until the last months of his term in office, Clinton had seriously considered going to Pyongyang (cf. Albright's embarrassing trip to DPRK in 2000). The discovery of the uranium enrichment program put an end to this as well as the usual slate of DPRK provocations. At this juncture, there's little prospect of a breakthrough in bilateral relationship. There's an argument that if the US were to seriously consider lifting all limits on ROK's ability to develop and deploy long range missile and allow them to become a nuclear-ready state, China would clamp down on DPRK (at this point they're the only state with meaningful leverage). As I stated above this is a very high risk strategy given the potential for unbridled arms race with the ongoing leadership transition in China, ROK, DPRK and Japan.


I think you'll enjoy this, though I can't vouch for its accuracy.



I hope no one gets too caught up in the story telling megalomania of Smith on the Going To Tehran site. (The Leveretts are always well informed – the comment section continues to deteriorate). Smith's take on this issue is so reductionist as to be worse than useless. On this issue, wikipedia is a better source.


Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your response.

It seems odd to me, reading your comments, that RoK is more of a concern than DPRK.

The way I read your comments, it sounds like the way things are on the Korean Penninsula actually quite acceptable to US.

That is, the perpetuation of State of War on the Korean Penninsula and the DPRK activities help to constrain (frighten, in other words) RoK leaders to the extent that they comply with US wishes.

In this sense, then, Peace is not useful to US - it could increase her strategic costs and efforts; North Korea being a God-send convenience.

Which also implies that US would be opposed to any form of Korean unification since, even if RoK absorbes DPRK, the unified state will immediately become a nuclear-armed state.

On the other hand, I do not understand why US considers there to be any strategic costs - so what if RoK can target Tokyo or Beijing with nuclear weapons? Why does North East Asia matter to US security? I confess that I cannot see a serious threat there.

In regards to China clamping down on DPRK - I just cannot see it under any circumstance. Korea was the Son-in-Law Country under the Empire; I do not believe that the People's Republic would treat it differently.

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