October 10, 2006

North Korean Seppuku?

Can someone please tell me when the firing of an ICBM armed with a nuclear warhead was not universally recognized as an act of war?

North Korea stepped up its threats aimed at Washington, saying it could fire a nuclear[sic] nuclear-tipped missile unless the United States acts to resolve its standoff with Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday from Beijing.

Even if Pyongyang is confirmed to have nuclear weapons, experts say it's unlikely the North has a bomb design small and light enough to be mounted atop a missile. Their long-range missile capability also remains in question, after a test rocket in July apparently fizzled out shortly after takeoff.

"We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes," Yonhap quoted an unidentified North Korean official as saying. "That depends on how the U.S. will act."

The official said the nuclear test was "an expression of our intention to face the United States across the negotiating table," reported Yonhap, which didn't say how or where it contacted the official, or why no name was given.

More after I have a chance to think about what this means...

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 10, 2006 06:23 AM | TrackBack

experts say it's unlikely the North has a bomb design small and light enough to be mounted atop a missile.

Almost 25 years ago, John Phillips designed such a bomb in a few months as a junior year physics project.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 10, 2006 08:59 AM

Wow, that sucks.

Posted by: hdw at October 10, 2006 10:07 AM

Are you saying that the missile that fired and failed was an act of war? Or the threat of firing a missile with a nuclear warhead on it's tip is the same as doing it, thus being an act of war?

Claiming to have the technology and ability to launch "an ICBM armed with a nuclear warhead" and actually doing so are two totally different things. Scary stuff going on nonetheless, but I wouldn't call the latest North Korean test "an act of war."

Posted by: H! at October 10, 2006 10:54 AM


Not sure I get your point. Are you just trying to say you don't like the turn of the phrase, or are you supporting NK's right to fire a nuclear tipped missile if they want?

Many now doubt that NK actually has nuclear capability - yet. And we know that the NoDong II was a failure.

However - just say that they had the technology - a nuke warhead, and a missile big enough to hit US territory. When a launch occurs, it takes a few minutes to determine where the bird is going. In many nuclear scenarios counter-launch has to happen early enough to get your own missiles away. In that type of scenario, would a NK launch constitute an act of war? Yes.

But, a few missiles, a few warheards - it would not seem that NK has enough to devastate the US and we could annihilate them in second strike. I suspect that first NK would try on a neighbor. Then you get into who are the allies of the neighbor and what are their capabilities. Japan, China, SK, etc. Now you open a real can of worms. Would that be an act of war? Yes.

What about a shot into the ocean? I don't think anyone would retaliate, but what concerns do we then need to think about with regards to nuclear contamination spreading through the ocean? That impacts quite a few lives. And yes - I know that the US conducted such tests in the early days - but I think you would agree that everybody knows a lot more about the effects now. Back then a lot was speculation....

Posted by: Specter at October 10, 2006 11:22 AM


I'm doing neither. I'm just saying that North Korea didn't fire a nuclear-tipped missile at us, so to say that firing an ICBM with a nuclear warhead on it's tip is an act of war is totally agreeable, but not what actually happened.

The "test" I was referring to was the missile launch, not the recent (and apparently failed) nuke test underground.

I was just trying to figure out if the CY was claiming that North Korea had committed an act of war with it's missle test, or was he just stating that by putting a nuke in there, an act of war WOULD be committed... something even I would support.

Posted by: H! at October 10, 2006 04:40 PM

I meant firing a missile with a nucelar warhead attached, or one we suspected was attached. If they say they are going to fire a nuclear ICBM and a missile goes up and we return fire before it hits and is determined to be a dud or a fake, then I don't have any sympathy for them.

It's kinda like telling a cop that you have a gun in your pocket and then making a sudden move for your pocket. If the cop shoots you thinking you are armed, that is considered justifiable.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 10, 2006 04:47 PM

Gotcha, thanks for clarifying. This liberal DEM agrees with that 110%.

Posted by: H! at October 10, 2006 05:12 PM

Don't worry, Kim, you fire a missile at the US, and I promise you we'll "act to resove [our] standoff" with you.

Of course, you'll be dead when we're finished.

Posted by: Greg D at October 11, 2006 11:58 AM