Nuclear missile surprises

by DR. PETER VINCENT PRY March 21, 2017

Rogue states are closer to achieving capability than elites will admit

The United States and its allies, informed largely by opinions of Washington foreign policy and media elites, have for years regarded nuclear weapon and missile programs in North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan as technologically primitive.

If their assessment is wrong, and nuclear missile programs of rogue states are significantly more advanced technologically than Washington and media elites suppose - we could stumble into a nuclear Pearl Harbor.

Evidence continues to mount that the establishment view is wrong. They are grossly underestimating the technological sophistication of rogue state nuclear and missile programs.

Consider the latest technological surprises that happened just recently in 2017:

  • In March, the United Nations disclosed North Korea has tried selling lithium-6, used to make tritium and fuel H-bombs.
  • In March, Iran successfully tested Hormuz-2, an anti-ship ballistic missile with a maneuvering warhead that located and destroyed a target vessel at a range of 250 kilometers.
  •  In January, Pakistan successfully tested Babur-3, a nuclear-armed, submarine-launched cruise missile with a terrain-matching, radar-avoiding guidance system of great accuracy.
  • In March, the press disclosed the Obama administration used cyber-attacks to sabotage North Korean missile tests, and WikiLeaks published the CIA's cyberwarfare tool kit.

Allow me to connect the dots.

Washington elites and media "instant experts" claim North Korea has only enough entry-level nuclear fuel, plutonium and uranium, for a small number of primitive A-bombs.

But the U.N.'s lithium-6 discovery proves not only does North Korea have an advanced nuclear fuel for sophisticated thermonuclear weapons - including neutron bombs and super-EMP warheads - but it has such an abundance of lithium-6 that Pyongyang is trying to sell its surplus online. Now the U.N. admits in its latest report, "North Korea is believed to have abundant stockpiles of lithium" and "abundant stockpiles of fissile material."

For years, the Obama administration and its allies in the media claimed North Korea could not miniaturize a nuclear weapon, to make it small and light enough for missile delivery. Lithium-6 and tritium solves that problem for North Korea by making possible higher yields in compact bombs, and weapons for specialized nuclear effects, too.

United Press International reports, "Tritium allows for the production of nuclear bombs with less required amounts of plutonium and uranium - and the small warheads they produce can be mounted on projectiles like intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States."

Since North Korea, Iran and Pakistan are strategic partners that share technology, it is prudent to judge that a technological breakthrough by one will be shared with the others, and that these actors are all at the same level of sophistication technologically.

Thus, Iran's development of a maneuvering re-entry vehicle - the acme of sophistication for ballistic missile warheads - belies the mainstream Washington view that North Korea is incapable of making even a simple re-entry vehicle for an intercontinental missile.

Pakistan's development of a submarine-launched cruise missile, armed with a nuclear warhead, that launches through a 22-inch-diameter torpedo tube, belies the mainstream view that North Korea does not have miniaturized warheads. North Korea has done more nuclear testing than Pakistan and has been building nuclear weapons for a half-decade longer.

The mainstream view that North Korean missiles are unreliable because of their failures during flight tests is now challenged by the revelation of Obama administration cyber-attacks and other means of disrupting Pyongyang's missile tests. Unfortunately, now that WikiLeaks has revealed the CIA's cyber-playbook, it may be no accident that North Korea's recent barrage of missiles into Japan's home waters was largely launched successfully.

No doubt the Washington foreign policy establishment and their allies in the mainstream media will not want to connect the dots. Even though North Korea has fielded two classes of intercontinental ballistic missile, the KN-08 and KN-14, and has possibly nuclear-armed satellites orbiting over the United States, they will continue to predict Pyongyang cannot yet "reliably" deliver a nuclear attack. They will continue to pretend Iran does not have nuclear weapons, even though Iran probably does (see "Iran - The Worst Deal," Family Security Matters Oct. 3, 2015). And they will act as if Pakistan's nuclear missile programs do not even exist. Yet Pakistani nuclear missiles have larger consequences for proliferation to North Korea, Iran and others.

Alas, Washington liberal and media elites are less afraid of North Korea, Iran and Pakistan than they are of the United States modernizing its nuclear deterrent to protect the American people from these bad actors. They are howling louder against the Trump administration's planned nuclear upgrades than they ever did against North Korea.

The truth is that the nuclear and missile genies are out of their bottles.

Stopping the spread of these technologies through the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the alphabet soup of other liberal arms control agreements has failed catastrophically.

It's time to defend ourselves.

A version of this piece also appeared on Washington Times

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards, and served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe and Electric Armageddon, both available from CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com

                                    

 


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