North Korea’s Nuclear Threat to America: Should We Believe It?

There’s no nation on earth better at bombast and brinksmanship than North Korea. And they reserve their best shots for America and South Korea.

CNN reported KCNA’s (the North’s state-run media) story:

KCNA reported that a spokesman from the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, “The DPRK legally stipulates that if the supreme dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it, by mobilizing all kinds of strike means including the nuclear ones.”

“Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time,” the foreign ministry spokesman added.

Yada, yada.

But now the Norks are closer to backing up their threats with actual bombs and rockets. The State of Hawaii is preparing to publish a “Nuclear Preparedness Guide” for its citizens. Pardon me for being glib about this, but I’m reminded of Chief Martin Brody running up and down the beaches of Amity Island shouting “Get out of the water!”



It’s not particularly good for tourism for visitors to be greeted at the airport in Honolulu with a brochure advising you “how to survive a nuclear detonation.”

The real question here is: do we take the threat seriously, literally, or both?

Any nation that both possesses nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them to a target must be taken seriously. Period, full stop. So the second question, do we take them at their word–would North Korea really commit suicide by attacking the United States with a weapon of mass destruction?

They’d like us to think so. And if they did do it, the results would be unthinkable. So therefore, we must (mostly) take them at their word. We cannot be asleep at the switch for another Pearl Harbor, this one with a much higher casualty list.

Therefore, we must take the North literally when they threaten our nation with nuclear weapons.

But that doesn’t mean we have to bow to their conditions. The U.S. already had Kim Jong Un in our crosshairs on July 4. We, in all probability, could have taken him out right then, and we let the Norks know it. We’ve also made testing our anti-missile capability a more public event, and though South Korea has suspended deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System (THAAD), we still have a robust anti-missile program for our own territory.

We don’t need another Cold War to handle North Korea. Our submarines and strategic bombers are more than capable of annihilating them in a counter-strike. Kim must know that any attack on U.S. soil is going to bring a non-proportional response, right? I don’t think he knows it, because we have no NATO in the Sea of Japan–no mutual defense pact or doctrine other than for South Korea.

Maybe it’s time for one. I think the answer is to tell Kim that (1) any attack on any sovereign nation that America considers an ally will be considered an attack on the U.S. itself (similar to NATO Article 5). And (2) any attack on the U.S. will result in removal of his regime by any means necessary.

Further to that, (3) the threat of such an attack on the U.S. or our allies is reason for us to decide, at any given moment, that North Korean leadership, including himself, to be targets of opportunity. We set up a hot line, similar to what the Israelis have with terror leaders (or how NORAD operates), so that President Trump can make the call when Kim’s in the crosshairs again, any time, anywhere, with almost no lag time.

If the Norks want to play nuclear hardball–and actually have a ball to play with–then we should treat them as big boys and deal with them. Either they’ll ratchet down the rhetoric, or we will see very little of Kim Jong Un in the future.

Until we know for sure the Norks actually have deployable weapons, however, I’m still in the “limited strike” camp to show them we mean business. We should go in and take out as much of their capability as possible, and make them play catch-up. Yes, I know, 11 million people in Seoul will be in harm’s way but they’ve been in harm’s way for 64 years.

Either way, whether we stipulate that the North has or will soon have the means to follow through with their threats, or we decide to keep them from getting to that point, the policy of the Monroe Doctrine, applied to our interests in the Far East, should still work.

Backing down in the face of Kim’s threats only encourages him; and the goal of North Korea–don’t forget–is to reunify with the South, with the Kim dynasty ruling one Korea. The Chinese would be fine with this arrangement, so they’re no help. This is one area where America has to act unilaterally, and lead as the world’s super power.

Otherwise, for our friends in South Korea, as Brody said in Jaws, “you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

North Korea and Red Lines – Is Conflict Inevitable?

On July 4th, North Korea launched an ICBM missile in their most successful test thus far. The success was surprising to many, because it appears to be two years ahead of schedule. This ICBM technology seemingly allows North Korea the capability to reach Alaska, and perhaps Hawaii. Given their success over the past few years, few doubt the eventuality of their capability of hitting the mainland 48 states in the near future.

Yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley delivered a forceful message to the UN Security Council, advocating global participation in North Korea sanctions, but at the same time, firmly putting US military might on the table as well.

Ambassador Haley held off on actual sanction specifics, but did mention oil and finance. North Korea imports 100% of their oil, and relies heavily on outside currency to fund their import needs. The current belief is if we are successful in drying up their oil supply, and freezing their banking, we will incapacitate Kim Jong-Un’s military.

All of this sounds reasonable. In fact, its comes straight out of the Foggy Bottom playbook. Utilize diplomacy to convince the global community to enact ever tightening sanctions with the hopes of bringing the rogue nation to the table for negotiations, thereby easing the threat.

It seems doubtful this diplomatic tact will be successful this time. At least, it seems dubious,  given the “red lines” three nations have declared. Those are:

  • America: The USA will not accept a nuclear capable North Korea. There will be no new rounds of negotiations without North Korea’s denuclearization. North Korea not only must eliminate their nukes, and their nuclear facilities, they must prove this fact to the US before any talks can commence.
  • North Korea: North Korea will not negotiate away their military nuclear capability. At a minimum, negotiations must allow for their current nuclear capability.
  • China: China cannot countenance the thought of South Korea (and therefore the US) occupying North Korea, thereby allowing the US military to be on their border. (One can hardly blame them, this would be akin to Russia camping on our border just miles from San Diego.) China is also fearful of the flow of refugees across the border if conflict were to being. China’s stance is they will get North Korea to the table if and only if, South Korea and the US cease joint military exercises, and remove all of the advanced missile and radar defense technology now installed in South Korea.

Of course, the obvious question is how strong these red lines really are. Can the U.S. accept a North Korea with the nuclear capability to hit America anywhere it wants, anytime it wants? Will Kin Jong-Un negotiate away his nukes in return for aid? What can China really live with?

But the really important question is how rational is Kim Jong-Un? If he is sane, then status quo diplomacy might work. If he’s a maniacal psychopath, then any diplomatic expectations are rooted in sheer fantasy.

When you game this out, conflict appears inevitable. If you take away Kim Jong-Un’s oil and cash, you very well might have a wounded animal in a corner scenario. What does this Demi-god have to lose once he has deprived his civilian population of oil, and his military is on its last legs? Reason? Sanity? No one can make a case for this dictator being even remotely sane.

What Ambassador Haley, Secretary of State Tillerson and the President aren’t saying is the most preferable scenario lies in the North Korea military taking out Kim Jong-Un themselves. The thinking is if the North Korean Army begins to see it’s own demise due to a global quarantine, they will overthrow Kim and establish new leadership.

The problem with this line of thought is not only is Kim Jong-Un their third generation godlike leader, the Army is third generation loyal to his family. If you add the fact that most of the officer class could be tried at the Hague for crimes against humanity, there doesn’t seem to be incentive for them to betray their leader.

China has shown themselves to be playing both sides, all the while attempting to appear mainstream to the global community. They met with President Trump very early into his term, and seemingly assured him of their desire to cooperate in reining in the North Korean nuclear capability by reducing trade with them. The 2017 first 6 month trade figures have just come out, and trade between China and North Korea has increased by 34%. It is becoming more and more difficult to have any faith in their desire to facilitate denuclearization.

There is one more fact to consider. South Korea’s capital city, Seoul is a densely packed city with over 10 million in population. It lies within 75 miles of the border between South and North Korea. No one really knows how many missiles the North Korean Army have along the border pointed at the capital city, but few deny the presence of chemical weapons among them.

If North Korea were allowed to strike Seoul, minimum causalities are estimated in the 300,000 range before North Korea was defeated. The use of VX gas, and other chemical weapons would certainly raise that estimate.

It is very hard to see how tightening the screws on North Korea will have any effect if China won’t cooperate. But then, what happens if China cuts off their oil? Does North Korea move into a war footing, escalating tensions globally?

At the end of the day, if any diplomatic scenario of sanctions eventually moves this mentally unstable dictator into an aggressive military stance, does a pre-emptive strike make sense? Or will America resign themselves to living daily under the threat of nuclear catastrophe from this rump nation?

Something has to give. These three “red lines” are in conflict with each other to the extent someone has to blink. If we are expecting a mentally unstable 30-something to blink first, especially with China’s continue assistance, then we might be living in a fantasy. But, if he doesn’t, what then? Will we acquiesce to North Korea in much the same way Europe has to the Muslims? Or will we defend our red-line?

Only time will tell, For now, our administration seems to be saying all the right things.

Mad Kim Jong-Un and MAD

One of the President’s responsibilties is to establish foreign policy, on a both a regional and global basis, as well as situationally. This is often termed “doctrine” which is defined as fundamental government international policy, long-term military principles,  or a set of situational strategies.

Since the middle of the last century, the United States government has held to the nuclear deterrence doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD.

MAD is self-explanatory.

“You’ve got nukes. We’ve got nukes. If you launch a nuke at us, we’ll have enough of an early warning which will allow us to launch our nukes at you. We go down. You go down as well, and we’re going to hit you so hard you’ll be in nuclear winter for ages to come.”

MAD is basically a fail-safe solution banking on a nuclear strike actually end up being a lose-lose scenario.

There is one very very important caveat to this doctrine, without which, it becomes ineffective. MAD relies upon the assumption of sanity. The belief that government leaders are sane, with adequate concern for their citizens and nation so as to ultimately refrain from pulling that particular trigger.

Enter Kim Jong-un Supreme Leader North Korea. Crazy as an outhouse rat. Nuttier than a fruitcake. A giggling man-child who loves to play: (The Sun)

His seaside party pad – close to the port of Wonson – has its own marina and secluded bays patrolled 24 hours a day by heavily armed troops. Jet skis, yachts and speed boats are moored under covers at the marina. Kim also has a giant 200-foot super-yacht – fitted with its own array of water chutes and slides – on hand in a dock further down the coast.And a fleet of Mercedes cars is used to ferry guests to the complex across a private bridge after they arrive at a nearby airstrip.

Contrast his lifestyle to those of his subjects-slaves: (The Sun)

Tubby tyrant Kim Jong-un is well-known for his love of imported foreign cheese as millions of his countrymen struggle to put food on the table. Most of his 25million subjects earn less than £3 a day. A UN Food and Agriculture Organization report stated that North Korea remains one of the 34 nations in the world needing external aid to feed its people. The agency estimates around 2.8million “vulnerable’ people in the North face an ‘ongoing struggle with under-nutrition and a lack of vital protein and fat in the diet”.

According to Reuters, North Korea had a successful missile launch trial: (Reuters)

North Korea’s missile program is progressing faster than expected, South Korea’s defense minister said on Tuesday, after the UN Security Council demanded the North halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and condemned Sunday’s test-launch. The reclusive North, which has defied all calls to rein in its weapons programs, even from its lone major ally, China, said the missile test was a legitimate defense against U.S. hostility. The North has been working on a missile, mounted with a nuclear warhead, capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

South Korea’s Defense Minister added some details: (Reuters)

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo told parliament Sunday’s test-launch was “successful in flight”. “It is considered an IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile) of enhanced caliber compared to Musudan missiles that have continually failed,” he said, referring to a class of missile designed to travel up to 3,000 to 4,000 km (1,860 to 2,485 miles). Asked if North Korea’s missile program was developing faster than the South had expected, he said: “Yes.”

Just how successful was this launch and how could America be affected? (Newsweek)

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un warned Monday that his country’s new ballistic missile can carry a large nuclear warhead and that the United States mainland is now within “sighting range.” The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” a report said. The missile landed 60 miles from the coast of Russia’s Vladivostok region and flew 489 miles at an altitude of 1,312 miles, according to the KCNA. Kim warned that the U.S. mainland is in “sighting range for a strike” and that North Korea “has all-powerful means for a retaliatory strike.”

Our experts seem to agree: (Newsweek)

Aerospace expert John Schilling said that the missile, if launched at maximum trajectory, could have flown 2,800 miles, said that the test represented a “level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile.” Such a distance would put U.S. territory in the Pacific within range. “It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), that, fired at a standard angle, the missile may have a maximum range capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii.” (Emphasis mine)

The U.S. response to this latest missle test seems to point toward more talk of sanctions:

Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Washington next month, with North Korea expected to be high on the agenda, the South’s presidential Blue House said. In a unanimous statement, the 15-member UN Security Council on Monday said it was of vital importance that North Korea show “sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action and stressed the importance of working to reduce tensions, To that end, the Security Council demanded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missile tests,” the council said, adding that it was ready to impose further sanctions on the country. The statement also condemned an April 28 ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang. Following that launch, Washington began talks with China on possible new U.N. sanctions. Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new measures before involving remaining council members.

However, there might a fly in the ointment with this sanctions thing: (NYT)

Despite seven rounds of United Nations sanctions over the past 11 years, including a ban on “bulk cash” transfers, large avenues of trade remain open to North Korea,  allowing it to earn foreign currency to sustain its economy and finance its program to build a nuclear weapon that can strike the United States.

Evidently, the profit motive is more important to some nations: (NYT)

Sanctions also do not cover the organized export of labor. The United States has urged countries to eject North Korean workers, saying their remittances benefit the military, not their families. But China, Russia and other nations continue to hire them. The North often circumvents banking sanctions using front companies and agents overseas, and North Koreans routinely send and receive payments using Chinese intermediaries who take a commission, despite the ban on “bulk cash” transfers. “We can and should go after these targets, but turning this into a game of financial cat-and-mouse will never achieve the level of pressure needed,” said Daniel L. Glaser, a former Treasury Department official involved in sanctions enforcement.

The important question at this moment is:

  • If sanctions aren’t working, and won’t substantially achieve their stated goals, what is America’s doctrine regarding North Korea’s nuclear capability?

Actually, this breaks down into two different scenarios/questions:

  1. What is our government’s doctrine regarding Kim Jong-Un’s stated goal and efforts toward obtaining a nuclear missile capable of reaching mainland America?
    1. Is there a point at which we will be forced into a pre-emptive strike?
    2. Will we go into alone even if the new South Korea government disagrees and refuses to cooperate?
  2. If the unthinkable were to happen, and North Korea launches a nuke strike what would our response be?
    1. Is nuclear retaliation a given, even if its against South Korea or Japan and not U.S. territory?
    2. How does the administration view the MAD doctrine given the fact Kim Jong-Un is so evidently unhinged and cares not one whit about his people?
    3. Is the administration comfortable going at this alone if necessary?

Given the chaos and tumult surrounding politics in our nation’s capital currently, it is doubtful any response to North Korea would gain even a semblance of bipartisan support. It would be wise for us to begin asking these questions now, rather than wade into that dreadful moment only to find the DC political landscape so gridlocked it is incapable of wise and reasoned decisions.

North Korea’s Hilarious Insult to a U.S. Senator

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R – CO), chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations subcommittee, commented on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un last week, saying:

I think most people agree that Kim Jong Un is a whack job.  This is a crazed maniac at the helm of one of the world’s nuclear regimes, trying to become a nuclear regime.

The government of North Korea reacted in a predictably hilarious manner:

On May 3, some [expletive] by the name of Cory Gardner, who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, perpetrated wicked blasphemy against our supreme dignity during an interview with NBC.  For a psychopath like the [expletive] Gardner, to hurl evil accusations at our highest dignity, is a serious provocation.  That a man mixed in with human dirt like Gardner, who has lost basic judgment and body hair, could only spell misfortune for the United States.

It is almost as if the North Korean government took a class on internet trolling.  It takes a special person to use terms such as “wicked blasphemy.”

It’s also unclear why the North Koreans believe that Gardner has lost his body hair, or why or how one could be “mixed in with human dirt.”  This response comes a couple months after Senator John McCain also insulted Kim Jong-un by calling him a “crazy, fat kid” and received an angry reply from the North Koreans for his comments.

Apparently, the corpulent and farcical Kim Jong-un is very sensitive about being called crazy and fat, as it insults his “highest dignity.”  He is also reportedly disappointed that “Pi Day” in the U.S. does not feature actual pies.

 

Will Trump Do What Obama Did To Get Four American Hostages Back?

A fourth U.S. citizen is now being held by North Korea. Kim Hak-song, who, according to the Washington Post, worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was detained for “suspicion of hostile acts.”

This, most likely, is a pretext to simply hold another American hostage. Or it could be an effort to shutter the only private school of any kind in North Korea.

Two weeks ago, North Korea detained another U.S. national, Kim Sang-dok or Tony Kim, as he waited to board a flight at Pyongyang airport. He had been teaching a class in international finance and management at the same university, known as PUST.

PUSTS’s biggest potential crime may be praying and secretly holding Bible studies. The Bible is the number one banned book in the officially atheist North, where the Kims are venerated in an almost godlike fashion.

Two other U.S. citizens are currently being held. One man in his early 60s was charged with spying in 2016. The other is a University of Virginia student who was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor in March, 2016.

Otto Warmbier, 22, went to North Korea with a tour group and was accused to trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel in Pyongyang. He has not been seen since his sentencing.

These detentions are relatively minor issues in the larger context of dealing with the North. Politically, it’s best to simply look at them as hostages. Former President Obama paid another rogue state with which America has no formal relations $400 million in foreign hard currency, secretly loaded aboard a plane.

Yes, that was Iran, now firmly embarked on a single-minded quest to build its own nuke, using North Korean technology. Iran is also likely buying missile tech from Kim, using some of that nice hard currency, and the $1,7 billion Obama gave away to the ayatollahs (add that to the $100 billion in unfrozen assets).

Officials told The Wall Street Journal that wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were secretly flown into Iran on the plane in January, the same day the U.S. exchanged seven Iranians for four American citizens who had been detained.

North Korea may be strapped for cash from China and its other trade partners due to sanctions for its pursuit of nukes and ICBMs, but its trade with Iran is probably doing very well. (And Iran’s trade with Boeing, but that’s a different story.)

Certainly Kim Jong-un would be happy to have his hand out waiting for some cash to return the hostages. He may have a powerful ally in the leading candidate in South Korea’s upcoming presidential elections. Moon Jae-in has a greater than double-digit lead over his closest rival. Moon is a left-of-center soft-liner on North Korea, from South Korea’s Democratic Party, and favors the “Sunshine Policy” of his late mentor former president Roh Moo-hyun.

Under “Sunshine 2.0,” as the South Korean media have dubbed his plans, Moon wants to reopen an industrial complex where North and South Koreans work together, just north of the de-militarized zone. He says he’s open to meeting the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. And he says he’d like to re-evaluate a deal the previous, conservative president Park Geun-hye signed with the U.S., to install a missile defense system in South Korea.

Moon is much more likely to break with the U.S., having written that South Korea should “learn how to say no” to America. I’m sure President Trump will give him ample opportunity, as the centerpiece of America’s missile defense shield, known as THAAD, just went operational last week.

If Trump favors pay-to-play with Moon, and Moon follows through with his threats to re-evaluate the deal to install THAAD, we might see no tripwire American presence on the Korean peninsula for the first time since the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. That’s a long-shot, given the close cooperation between ROK forces and the U.S. 8th Army, along with the USAF and other branches.

Moon, however, plays right into Kim’s hands, and away from Trump’s hard line.

It’s complicated. And nobody really knows what’s in Kim’s head–reunification with him as the dictator, or preserving the status quo forever? Could two Koreas survive with a historical cultural and economic tie, but completely different social and economic structures? I think not, not after nearly 70 years of Juche (self-reliance) and isolation in the North, and an explosion of capitalism (and Christianity) in the South.

Too many generations have passed to reconcile these without a political unification. It would be like still maintaining East and West Germany, but enabling economic and social cooperation between them. It can’t happen.

So either North Korea will develop ICBMs to threaten America (the only nation it really fears) and nuclear weapons to be delivered by those missiles, and America will withdraw from the South, paving the way for Kim to simply march into Seoul someday, or we will stand up to Kim and stop him.

I keep hearing the “Reservoir Dogs” (NSFW) scenario where three armed men are standing at an impasse, with one having his barrel to the head of his rival and his finger on the trigger. They ask how we could endanger 11 million people in Seoul from artillery raining from the North? Well, if Kim wants to commit suicide and take his country with him–and America leans a bit more forward on things like release of tactical nukes, and China believes us, we might avoid the trigger.

There’s no scenario where Kim gets his way and South Korea is more secure. The status quo cannot hold indefinitely since missiles and nukes are game changers. Why can’t Kim appeasers see this?

Or maybe we can make a deal with Kim like Obama did with Iran–a deal Trump called “disastrous” but now intends to maintain, using identical language to Obama’s in its report to the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

Trump recently said he’d be “honored” to meet Kim: “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it.” There’s nothing wrong with a little tête-à-tête between heads of state; of course, North Korea would need to stop taking Americans hostage first, I would think.

Then again, if Trump filled a plane with $400 million in foreign currency and flew it to Pyongyang, I’m sure something could be worked out. Because that’s what Obama would do.

North Korea Accuses U.S., South Korea of Attempting to Assassinate Kim Jong Un

North Korean state news media accused the U.S. and South Korea today of plotting an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un.

The Washington Post reports.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Friday that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency had bribed a North Korean citizen to “hurt the supreme leadership” using a biochemical substance.

Reportedly, the attempt was to be made on April 16, during the Day of the Sun celebrations. The BBC further elaborates that the statement by North Korean news described the biochemical substances as “‘including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance’ whose results would ‘appear after six or twelve months’…” 

About $300,000 reportedly had been given to the “corrupted and bribed” citizen in various smaller payments on the understanding that he would provide detailed information about a possible location for the attack, as well as methods to carry it out. KCNA went on to call the CIA and South Korea’s NIA “hotbed of evils in the world.”

In response, the statement of the news agency continued,

“We will ferret out and mercilessly destroy to the last one the terrorists of the U.S. CIA…. Korean-style anti-terrorist attack will be commenced from this moment to sweep away the intelligence and plot-breeding organisations of the US imperialists and the puppet clique.”

Is there any truth to the accusations? The Norks have made similar accusations in the past, none verified, but tensions have been unusually high in recent months. And, as The Hill reports, “South Korea has in the past admitted to having plans in place to kill Kim.”

Again, from The Washington Post:

…Cui Zhiying, a professor in the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at Tongji University in Shanghai, said the accusation was unlikely to be true, and more likely just another episode in a “war of words” between the two sides.

“There is no doubt that the United States and South Korea have been thinking about eradicating Kim Jong Un, but it is hard to put into practice,” he said. He said the claim was more likely a North Korean response to “escalating threats” from the U.S. side.

Other quoted expert also believe it is likely a false accusation.

Everyone wants to see Kim Jong Un gone — John Kasich even called for the removal of North Korean leadership last week — but it must be done successfully as North Korea continues to grow more dangerous in their weapons technology. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC recently that he is aware of no plots to assassinate Kim. For the sake of the world, and especially North Korean citizens, at least part of me hopes he’s wrong.

North Korean Propaganda Video Threatens Destruction Of White House

North Korea has released a propaganda video promising the destruction of the White House, and threatening that “the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights.”

The film, complete with cheesy production values and music straight out of a 70s action flick, includes an aircraft carrier in crosshairs and the threat that,  “We will show you what a strong country that leads the world in nuclear and missile technology is capable of.”

The release of the video comes on the heels of escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States and South Korea, both of whom promised “swift punitive measures” against the Communist country.  The video made its debut on Thursday, just a few days after another similar video played before a concert in Pyongyang with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un in attendance.

North Korea is known for its bombastic rhetoric and exaggerated propaganda, but it has ramped up its output in recent weeks as tensions have risen.

During a concert held April 16 and attended by Kim, a video was broadcast showing missiles arcing over the Pacific and leaving a U.S. city in flames, followed by images of a burning American flag and a cemetery filled with white crosses.

Similar videos showing attacks on U.S. cities were broadcast last year and in 2013.

American officials have promised to prepare a military response to North Korea, along with sanctions against the country. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will arrive at the Korean Peninsula this weekend, and the submarine USS Michigan arrived off the coast of South Korea earlier this week.

South Korea is working with both the United States and United Nations to put the heat on its neighbors to the north.

“The two sides pledged that in the event of additional strategic provocation by the North to swiftly take punitive measures including a new UN Security Council resolution that are unbearable for the North,” the South’s presidential office said, following the call.

China has also offered to help pressure Pyongyang to stand down and back off its rhetoric, but officials in Beijing are unhappy about the THAAD missile defense system the U.S. has begun installing in South Korea.

Stay tuned as we keep our eyes on the growing tensions in this part of Asia.

North Korea – Something Has To Give

By now, most Americans are aware of the unbelievably tense situation regarding North Korea and their leader Kim Jong-un. They are rightfully described by most media as being a rogue nation, and have managed to escalate tensions both in that region of the world and also in the US.

Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review writes:

Acting crazy has worked for rogue regimes, but Western appeasement is not a long-term solution. How can an otherwise failed dictatorship best suppress internal dissent while winning international attention, influence — and money? Apparently, it must openly seek nuclear weapons. Second, the nut state should sound so crazy and unpredictable that it might just use them, regardless of civilization’s deterrent forces arrayed against it. Third, it must welcome being “reluctantly” pulled into nonproliferation talks to prolong the farce and allow its deep-pocket enemies to brag of their diplomatic “strategic patience” and sophistication.

Kim Jong-un is the third of his family to lead North Korea, and is following what has previously been a successful path of monetizing crazy:

But no one has played the game better than the two Kim Jongs of North Korea. The result is that Pyongyang has gained billions in bribe money, international attention and concern, and free publicity, despite starving its own people and becoming the hated pariah of Asia. Certainly, comparably sized Asian countries such as Sri Lanka or Malaysia do not warrant the world’s focus or largesse by quietly tending to their own business. Under the rules of nuttiness and nuclearized blackmail, quiet non-nuclear states who play by the rules are ignored, and rogues who don’t are courted and bribed. Outlaw leaders see such brinkmanship as the pathway to family enrichment and prolonged tenure.

But there is a new sheriff in town, and times have changed. It appears North Korea has both overestimated their ability to intimidate, and underestimated the world’s concern over their nuclear capability.

President Trump and Sec. of State Tillerson have changed the dynamic of how we approach North Korea, and the days of appeasement are over. Kim Jong-un is just too close to achieving the capability of reaching mainland America with an ICBM nuke for comfort.

Obviously, the status quo cannot be maintained. We cannot keep such a large portion of our navy there indefinitely, and China must be very nervous about the amount of nuclear weapons we’ve brought with us. Countries on that region cannot long be on such a heightened military alert. This level of tension and stress simply cannot and will not continue unabated. How to deescalate this tension is the question that has to be answered.

The current unknown is the President’s endgame. North Korea has between 15 to 20 nuclear bombs currently. They do have the capability of reaching into South Korea and Japan, but most do not believe their missile technology has the ability to reach either Australia or the US. Given those facts, what must Kim Jong-un do to bring calm to the situation? What will satisfy President Trump?

Will the US be satisfied with if North Korea announces it will no longer test their missile capability, thus securing our safety for the time being?  Does Kim Jong-un have to announce he is ending nuclear testing?  Or will only North Korea’s announced and certified denuclearization satisfy?

To his credit, President Trump has China engaged, and they hold the key to a long-term successful solution. North Korea obtains most of their oil from China, they are also the primary purchaser of North Korean coal. While it appears they have are now sending North Korea coal back, and have begun purchasing US coal, there is no indication they have stopped oil sales.

To be sure, cutting off their oil would put that entire nation in dire straits and Kim Jong-un’s back against the wall, creating the leverage necessary to bring this crisis to a satisfactory conclusion.

But, China hasn’t pulled that trigger yet. Perhaps they are waiting to see if the US and the UN blink and offer cash for appeasement. But there is an option the US can choose which will put China in a corner and force them to make a choice. That is the installation of nuclear weapons in South Korea.

Have no doubt, this decision would go way past the “red line” for China. They cannot abide a nuclear South Korea or Japan, any more than we could allow the Russians to install nukes in Cuba. National Review explains:

As a last resort, of course, the U.S. can always tell China that it broke the unspoken rule of not letting a client go nuclear. It will remind Beijing that if Taiwan, Japan, or South Korea chooses to go nuclear as did North Korea, its nukes would work like Hondas and Kias and not implode on the launching pad. Public opinion in all these countries, of course, understandably opposes nuclearization, but public opinion is fickle when North Korea sends missiles into one’s air space. Nuclearized India, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea on the borders of Russia and China are unstable enough for these patrons — without adding a nearby nuclear Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea as well.

While it might be considered a last resort, given China’s penchant for propping up it’s puppet state, it just might be the only viable path forward. It is the option that seems to have the quickest and surest chances for success.

It is a fact of life humans cannot long maintain high tension and stress without something negative happening. If this level of stress goes on too long, minor issues become major, mistakes appear deliberate acts, and tempers fray to the point of unpredictability. The President and his Cabinet seem to have a good handle on this situation, here’s hoping they know how to close the deal.