Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Ben Riley-Smith / The Telegraph & Dr. Laura Grego / Union of Concerned Scientists – 2017-12-22 01:02:43
Report: US Plans ‘Bloody Nose’ Attack on North Korea
Attack Would Aim to Destroy Missile Test Site
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 20, 2017) — According to a new report in the Daily Telegraph, the concerns about a US attack on North Korea are very well-founded, and the White House has “dramatically” stepped up plans for what it is calling a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea.
Apparently ignoring months of analyst warnings that there is no way to have a “limited” war with North Korea, the White House envisions a quick, damaging attack, potentially destroying North Korea’s missile test site, and some stockpiles, which would, according to officials, show how “serious” President Trump is.
This is seen by the administration as an option short of full-scale nuclear war, and the only such option available to them since they’re bound and determined not to engage in direct diplomacy with North Korea.
The Pentagon is coming up with “multiple options” for such attacks, and while they’re all relatively vague, they all seem based on the assumption that Kim Jong Un will be so impressed with how aggressive the US is, he will cheerfully submit to all of America’s preconditions without question.
In reality, analysts agree that North Korea would see any attack as the start of a full-scale war of regime change, and standing military orders are to retaliate against US targets with everything they have, assuming everything not used will be destroyed in the US strikes at any rate.
Exclusive: US Making Plans for ‘Bloody Nose’ Military Attack on North Korea
Ben Riley-Smith / The Telegraph
(December 20, 2017) — America is drawing up plans for a “bloody nose” military attack on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme, The Telegraph understands.
The White House has “dramatically” stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months amid fears diplomacy is not working, well-placed sources said.
One option is destroying a launch site before it is used by the regime for a new missile test. Stockpiles of weapons could also be targeted.
The hope is that military force would show Kim Jong-un that America is “serious” about stopping further nuclear development and trigger negotiations.
Three sources — two former US officials familiar with current thinking and a third figure in the administration — confirmed military options were being worked up.
Would the US Be Able to Defend Against a North Korean Nuclear Attack?
Union of Concerned Scientists
(October 2017) — As the war of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un intensifies, the possibility that Kim would try to launch a nuclear-armed missile at an American city becomes less remote.
We asked UCS Senior Scientist Laura Grego, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the US missile defense system, if it could protect the United States. Grego, who has a doctorate degree in experimental physics from the California Institute of Technology, is the author or co-author of several reports and white papers on the system. Her most recent report, “Shielded from Oversight: The Disastrous US Approach to Strategic Missile Defense,” was published in 2016.
Would the United States Be Able to Defend
Against a North Korean Nuclear-armed Missile Attack?
Dr. Laura Grego / Union of Concerned Scientists
(October 12, 2017) — Realistically, no. The only system designed to defend the United States from an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, which the Pentagon declared to be operational 15 years ago. Despite more than $40 billion invested since 1996 (pdf), it has yet to demonstrate a real-world defensive capability.
Defending against ICBMs is one of the most difficult tasks the Pentagon has been asked to do. Here is how it is supposed to work: In the event of an attack, satellite-based sensors and radars based in Japan or on nearby ships would provide the first alert.
Then other radars would track the nuclear warhead to determine its path and try to identify the warhead among debris and look-alike decoys that may be traveling with it.
Armed with this information, GMD operators would launch file cabinet-sized “kill vehicles” mounted on rockets from either Fort Greely, Alaska, or Vandenberg Air Force Base in California toward the incoming missile. The kill vehicle then autonomously maneuvers itself to try to crash into the warhead and destroy it by the force of impact.
Doing so is a fiendishly difficult task. The kill vehicle and warhead are heading toward each other at extremely high speeds — as fast as 22,000 miles per hour — and the entire engagement, from detection to destruction, would take only about 30 minutes.
Any nuclear-capable adversary would certainly try to make conditions as complex and challenging as possible by, for example, including lightweight decoys or other countermeasures to confuse or overwhelm the defense. UCS pointed out this problem nearly 20 years ago in its landmark 1999 report “Countermeasures.”
The GMD system’s track record is not reassuring. Since 1999, the system has successfully destroyed its target in only half of its tests, and none of the tests have been conducted under real-world conditions.
No test has included multiple GMD interceptors against a single target (a primary strategy for improving the system’s effectiveness), for example, nor has the system been tested against more than one missile, a likely strategy for any adversary.
Even the director of operational test and evaluation, the Pentagon’s highest testing official, has acknowledged (pdf) that the system has not yet demonstrated operationally realistic capability. For all these reasons, we must conclude that the system cannot provide an effective defense of the United States from a potential North Korean ICBM attack.
Our 2016 report, “Shielded from Oversight,” describes in detail the poor state of the missile defense system, and explains what led to it. A primary reason is the George W. Bush administration rushed the system into the field before it was ready.
To do so, it had to exempt the missile defense development program from normal oversight and accountability processes required of other major military systems. This exemption allowed the Pentagon to cut short engineering cycles and field poorly tested equipment. This flawed approach, not a lack of funding, is responsible for most of the system’s serious reliability problems.
That said, even if the system worked as designed and the reliability improved, it would not provide a credible defense against a determined adversary. According to the US intelligence community, any country capable of developing ICBMs would have the know-how to field effective countermeasures, and the Pentagon has yet to meet the challenge of discriminating warheads from decoys.
Finally, missile defense does not solve the problem of nuclear-armed missiles. By far the bulk of US effort and resources should go to ensuring these missiles are never used. Thoughtful, intensive diplomacy can reduce the risk of a crisis escalating to nuclear use and hopefully, over the long haul, eliminate nuclear weapons altogether.
Dr. Laura Grego focuses on the technology and security implications of national missile defense and of space security. Before joining UCS, Grego was a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She earned a doctorate degree in experimental physics at the California Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy at the University of Michigan.
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