The U.S. is worried that North Korea’s missile latest technology will reduce the warning time for a nuclear attack. CNN reports:
The regime’s aggressive testing of medium- and long-range missiles — as well as its nuclear testing — makes North Korea now a “practical” threat and no longer a “theoretical” threat, in the words of one US official familiar with the latest US intelligence thinking.
Significantly, North Korea no longer cares if the world sees its test failures, according to the latest analyses, allowing Pyongyang to more openly, aggressively and repeatedly test all of the key components needed for an attack.
As a result, the regime has the ability to hold the US and allies “at risk” with nuclear weapons, the US official said.
“When you have this many tests, you are eventually going to get it right. That’s what concerns me,” said retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst.
It’s important not to get too agitated about Pyongyang; being worried that they are “eventually going to get it right” isn’t the level of certainty that warrants a freakout. But still, over the past few years North Korea has clearly made significant strides with its nuclear weapons and delivery systems. And nothing the U.S. or South Korea does seems to be slowing Pyongyang down.
The most immediate loser, of course, isn’t the U.S. or South Korea. It’s China, which yet again has some ‘splainin to do. Why can’t Beijing keep its far weaker ally in line? Or, maybe more to the point, why won’t it? It’s not important that we here at Via Meadia are asking these questions. What matters is that those are the questions being asked in Seoul and Tokyo. Every time North Korea misbehaves, the odds of South Korea and Japan getting friendlier with Beijing do down.
It isn’t just China that suffers, however; leaving behind a more powerful North Korea isn’t exactly a great look for President Obama either. Now, it’s unfair to blame Obama for not understanding how to control one of the most opaque regimes on Earth. But when President Obama came to office, he made nonproliferation one of his signature goals. He and his aides still talk about reducing nuclear stockpiles. Those promises stand in stark contrast with the reality of an advancing North Korean nuclear weapons program.