How Do Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Work? –


"An ICBM, as its name implies, can travel from one continent to another. Once launched, ICBMs travel in a parabola, much like a baseball flying through the air. Just like a baseball, an ICBM can be released at any angle. But in North Korea's case, the ICBMs are being launched "almost straight up," Coyle told Live Science. "They fly straight up against the force of gravity and come down some distance from North Korea … If they're long-range, [the North Koreans] usually drop them on the other side of Japan, which, of course, makes Japan very nervous."

It's important to note that North Korea wouldn't aim its ICBMs straight up if it wanted to launch an actual attack. "They'd launch toward their target, which might be thousands of miles away," Coyle said. That means that even though the Hwasong-15, the latest ICBM, traveled about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from its launch site, it could travel much farther — likely more than 8,100 miles (13,000 km) from its launch site if it had a standard trajectory, according to a Nov. 28 blog written by missile expert David Wright.

However, it's challenging to know how far a battle-ready North Korean ICBM would fly, as its "practice" ICBM likely had a light payload or none at all. Such a payload — like a nuclear warhead — would weigh down the ICBM and limit the distance it could travel, Coyle said."


 Achievement of a miniaturized nuclear warhead for this beast is just a matter of time and effort.  NoKo progress so far exceeds expectations.  Why should it not continue to do so?  For a literally wormy lot, they have an impressive ability to build these things.  I remember my father (a Korean War veteran at age 50) telling me that Korean farmers used human feces to fertilize their fields and that as a result the population was rotten with parasites. (parental reference).

My point is that NoKo will achieve what amounts to a first strike capability with their first and last ICBM to be launched at the US. Would we be lucky and have the thing hit Toronto rather than NY City?  Who knows?  IMO it would be the luck of the draw given the probable CEP of a NoKo ballistic missile.

How big a warhead would the thing be armed with?  Would it function after re-entry?  Who knows?

Ballistic missiles are very different weapons from the usual run of destructive instruments.  I was in Baghdad during the harb al-mudun (war of the cities) when Iran and Iraq were pummeling each other with SCUDS.  (self glorifying reference) There was little warning.  Occasionally a few seconds of radar driven siren, but usually there would be ordinary city noise followed by a very loud noise and a building would be gone.  I made it a habit to stay on the middle floors of hotels to avoid the consequences of a rooftop hit or a ground burst next to the hotel.  pl

This entry was posted in Space, weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to How Do Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Work? –

  1. Degringolade says:

    Please don’t consider this disrespectful or flip, but the truth is, I am more worried about the ICBM’s that Jeff Bezos is building (yes, all of his rockets can be “missiles” if one so chose).
    Bezos’ megalomania is much more worrisome than Kim’s paranoia.

  2. turcopolier says:

    Bezos does not have a nuclear weapons program. It is true that any SSM or SAM can be made into a ground target weapon. The NIKE Hercules was aparticularly accurate in that role. pl

  3. johnT says:

    Feces like wastewater treatment “cake” that is gleefully sent to mister farmer guy here in the good old US?
    Big ‘maters you’ve got there Clem!

  4. turcopolier says:

    john T
    “pathogen destruction is frequently accomplished through heating during thermophilic digestion, composting, or incineration.” your wiki. You are calling me “Clem?” You are mocking me? Goodbye. pl

  5. Lefty says:

    There was a picture of Kim with a miniaturized nuclear warhead a couple of months ago. Made me curious where they were getting their rapidly developing nuclear and rocket skills. Didn’t seem likely they were all home grown. Any suggestions?

  6. b says:

    The South Korean government assessed that the HS-15 missile can fly 13,000km with a payload of up to 1,000kg. Its reentry vehicle is large enough to hold the “peanut” H-bomb the DPRK tested and showed off. Indeed the RV is large enough to allow for a few extra dummies to confuse any missile defense.
    With today’s electronics the aiming and steering of a missile is much less a problem than in earlier times. With the HS-15 the DPRK also mastered gimbaled nozzles which is the most effective way of steering.
    An analyst at 38North says that two or three more launches will be needed for the DPRK to declare the system fully operational.
    The DPRK already has the means to send a nuke to the U.S. in case of an emergency, like an attempted decapitation strike.
    The DPRK is a fully capable nuclear state. It has mobile ICBMs, different types of nukes that are sufficiently small and it will soon also have submarine launched missiles on a few boats.
    Washington should end its grief and negotiate the rules for deterrence. As the DPRK has no intent for now to attack anyone that should mean that the U.S. military stays in a bit of distance of NoKo and stops the warmongering.
    We might otherwise see some airburst demonstration that will teach Japan that the U.S. neither can nor is willing to defend it. Some test launches to aims near Guam are also a possibility.

  7. BillWade says:

    I’ve been reading some pundits who are saying that Trump is the “madman” and Kim Jung Un is the sane one for he only wants to free up his military to go plant some rice and can’t do that due to our “excercises”. We’ve been having these excercises for decades and have not once attacked NoKor in spite of their continuing provocations. We will still hold our exercises and then what is Kim Jung Un to do?

  8. BillWade says:

    When my youngest daughter had a suitor calling I once answered the phone and he said, “hey dude, is Mary home?”, I said to him “it’s, Mr Dude to you”.

  9. turcopolier says:

    Interesting, but you are guessing as to whether or not NoKo has available to it the modernization issues that would much improve CEP at range. In fact you are making an argument for a massive US pre-emptive attack. pl

  10. Matthew says:

    Col: The saddest consequence of NK nuclear capacity will be the Neo-Cons will argue that Preventative Wars (against Iran, for example) are now mandatory.

  11. Fred says:

    Let me review that analysis:
    “…the DPRK has no intent for now to attack anyone…”
    Today’s not looking too good? How does Tuesday look?
    “Washington should end its grief and negotiate the rules for deterrence.”
    “We might otherwise see some airburst demonstration that will teach ..”
    Teach what, North Korea can force the US to pay extortion? I can see the ads now. “You too can extort the US. For only a year’s supply of oil North Korea will make you fully nuclear capable. Just call Junior Samples Rocket Man at BR-549. Operators are standing by. What’s not to like about that deal?

  12. Norbert M Salamon says:

    all the sanctions are attacks – though of a different type than the cruise missiles, drones and other aspects of kinetic war – they still casing intentional economic or social harm

  13. FourthAndLong says:

    Did you see this back in August 2017?
    So, you aren’t the only one who’s curious. I’ve strongly suspected what’s hinted at in above article. And worse. The British military historian Anthony Beevor very briefly dropped some further ominous hints in these regards in an address recently. Can try to find YouTube link if interested.

  14. Dave Schuler says:

    What’s the evidence that North Korea is deterrable? I’m not being flip. I’d genuinely like to know.

  15. ked says:

    Does anyone sense an unspoken argument, “To address the threat to the USA, we must accept S Korea being destroyed.”?

  16. turcopolier says:

    Why the quotation marks? pl

  17. jld says:

    We will still hold our exercises and then what is Kim Jung Un to do?

    Nothing special beyond sending the troops to rice planting/harvesting, the “plan” is to nullify the threat of an actual attack by having credible retaliation.

  18. BillWade says:

    We have several thousand troops in South Korea and have held exercises there for decades to prevent such a thing from happening, what’s changed?

  19. aleksandar says:

    Maybe Thereran…..thumb his nose to US ?

  20. aleksandar says:

    Kim is not mad.he is not going to attack USA.
    Noko nuclear program est just deterrence type weak/mighty.
    Nobody,having 10 nuclear ICBM will launch a nuclear attack against someone that has 3500.
    Nothing more.

  21. Amir says:

    Interesting background info from “Arms Control Wonk” blog:
    NORTH KOREA’S BIG FRICKIN’ MISSILE by ACW Podcast | November 30, 2017
    North Korea tested a new ICBM called the Hwasong-15 … discuss the missile, the launch site, the truck that carried it, and its oh-so-roomy payload…
    Images from KCNA of North Korea’s new Hwasong-15 ICBM test

  22. Alaric says:

    “In fact you are making an argument for a massive US pre-emptive attack.”
    Only if the US is willing to lose say LA, Seattle, San Fran, San Diego and maybe Chicago. My understanding is that North Korea has hardened underground bunkers for their missiles. This last ICBM was allegedly launched from a mobile launcher and it could be easily hidden.
    It is reasonable to expect missiles would survive your massive preemptive strike and be used against the continental US.

  23. b says:

    For 50 years North Korea has behaved rational in its foreign policy. Aggressive at times, but rational and not suicidal. Its first impulse is always to survive. It is thus as deterable as any other country.

  24. Fred says:

    And next year they’ll have how many missles?

  25. turcopolier says:

    all of that seems extremely unlikely to me. NoKo is not the USSR or China. It is a half assed little country that has put whatever resources it has into developing a small force that would be wiped out in the first days of a war with the US. Like “b” and a number of people who infest my blog you yearn for the humiliation and fall of the US. Austin, Texas, eh? How transparent. pl

  26. b says:

    For now means for the next 30 years. I can not see beyond that.
    The only potential offensive aim for North Korea is reunification with South Korea. This can not be achieved conventionally as South Koream defenses are too developed. To achieve it by nukes might be possible but who would want to own a nuked Seoul?
    I wrote what an airburst would teach.
    Japan would recognize that their fealty to the U.S. does not help them against North Korea. It would turn away from the alliance in which it can only play a junior role.
    Th U.S. can of course be extorted. Israel is doing that on a daily base.

  27. turcopolier says:

    An airburst anywhere will result in NoKo being transformed into a heap of ashes with glassy spots here and there. It will take a lot of honeybuckets full of nightsoil to approximate feeding whatever population is left. In that context the population of Seoul could “kiss it goodbye.” As for any analogy between the US-Israeli relationship and anything with North Korea, an intelligent German like you should know that there is not a NoKo AIPAC. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    Their fate is in their hands. pl

  29. b says:

    CEP at range is a question of measuring and steering.
    The old way of measuring was some analog stuff with lots of systemic errors. The new way is digital. Any good smartphone has today the acceleration and direction-wising chips that are needed to achieve better than analog results.
    Even better – the electronic are not damaged by the extremely high acceleration forces a missile and warhead endure.
    With gimbaled nozzles driven by digital controlled step-motors the steering is much easier now than with analog system. Any consumer level 3d printer has such motors.
    North Korea has excellent engineers well trained in digital stuff. They recently showed off their self produced CNC machines. They essentially copied the Siemens SINUMERC control system but the photos showed that the hardware was self-developed, not a mere 1:1 copy.
    One of my camera drones has a “come home” feature. I press a button and it lands where it started – fully automated. The CEP is less than 15 centimeters even from hundreds of meters away. The drone costs a few hundred bucks (though I didn’t even pay for it).
    That all together tells me that North Korea will have no problem to get its warheads where it wants them to go to.

  30. turcopolier says:

    You don’t “know” anything like that. Your crappy little toy drone is proof of something? What a joke! OK. You yearn for the defeat of the US. If NoKo wants to go your route, let them bring it on. Let them show us what they have. Let’s see if they have the balls for the big game. pl

  31. b says:

    @Pat – a North Korean air burst somewhere over the ocean where it does little harm will not result in a strike on it. It is insufficient reason to risk the devastation of a U.S. city.
    The half-assed little country of North Korea has shown off a very impressive missile program with different types and lots of achievements. All this under the massive constrains it is under. It has a well developed nuke and missile industry that is mostly self sufficient. The country is mountainous with lots of tunnels available.
    The North Korean government is not stupid. It would not do an air burst test without having some secondary deterrence option available to stop a devastating response. Where you see one missile and warhead other-ones will are there too. But you won’t see them until they are needed.
    Oh, you don’t believe that? Fine, but would you bet Seattle on that?

  32. turcopolier says:

    You are absolutely wrong. An obvious threat like that would be met with annihilation. pl

  33. turcopolier says:

    Bill Wade
    They are a surety of our willingness to fight NoKo. Nobody ever thought they could defeat NoKo. pl

  34. LondonBob says:

    Lets see where Tillerson’s negotiations go. Koreans have a high IQ, despite their economic system, developing ICBMs is well within their capabilities.
    “Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.”
    ― Otto von Bismarck

  35. Fred says:

    “…you bet Seattle on that?”
    You are quite willing to do so with the “30 years” b.s. you quoted me above. The North Koreans have traded a million or so Korean lives for their nuclear weapons program. I am certain they are willing to trade a few million Korean, Japanese, and American lives to make it even bigger. “The North Korean government is not stupid.” Yes they are, or they would understand that all of the Korean peninsula isn’t worth Seattle and Trump is not Obama, Hilary of any of the borg denziens that invest the swamp.

  36. Grazhdanochka says:

    Obviously none of us want to see necessarily yet other fully Fledged Members to Nuclear Club, North Korea possessing Strategic Missiles is however only a matter of Time away (I do not mean singular Tests but reliable deployment in Numbers)
    But what is going to change? Short of going to War over a Threat yet to move beyond long standing Rhetoric (and – mixed Signals) the Outcome seems certain – The US and the World as whole will have to get used to a new Reality.. This dictates a change of Approach if one wishes to get ahead of the Curve and manage it.
    While not exactly same the US did indeed learn to live with Nuclear USSR and PRC – So far I do not see it impossible to live with North Korea in this Case as there is not appear to be much better Options.
    For all the heated Rhetoric I remind myself of the saying – «Собаки лают караван идёт».. Of course poor Relations with China/Russia likely does not help the Equation either and I suspect for as China has somewhat dropped the North Korean Ball, Russia may look at this as an Opportunity for Influence on both Sides by picking it up, indeed ind doing so it has little to lose.

  37. turcopolier says:

    No. Deterrence would not work against NoKo any more than it would work against IS. pl

  38. turcopolier says:

    Flynn is a poorly educated opportunist who rose in the CT war as a kind of glorified technician with little real knowledge of anything substantial but his official file photograph looked good. pl

  39. scott s. says:

    As I was reading this we were having the first monthly test of our emergency siren system, where they have added an “air raid” signal after the one we normally get (intended for things like tsunami).
    scott s.

  40. turcopolier says:

    Bismarck also said that “genius lies in knowing when to stop.” Evidently KJU is not a genius. pl

  41. Dr. Puck says:

    Is there anyway to refine CEP at range without test launching ICBMs where the test target stands in for an actual target at the required range?

  42. turcopolier says:

    Dr. Puck
    Sure. Place a target at the right range and see if you can hit it. pl

  43. Grazhdanochka says:

    To play Devils Advocate – Deterence from what and how does Deterrence not work against them?
    For Years now it is known they have Nuclear Arms and they have Improved them…. What we see now is development – ICBM to target Continental USA (Or other possible Targets)
    Over this Time obviously no War has broken out on Korean Peninsula despite Tensions… Thus it is not necessarily of Tactical Benefit in that Theater what they pursue now. The ability to threaten the USA is far from anything approaching MAD so at this Point it is obviously at most object of -A) First limited Strike,B) Threat/Intimidation or C) Retaliation…
    IF they are hell bent on First Strike – then yes deterrence is not going to help… But to me that suggests their sole Intent is to kill as many Americans as possible before being wiped out… They have no Ability to prevent a retalitory Strike and their Fate is assured.
    If we assume Threat/Intimidation – say to encourage Disengagement of the US from South Korea how do they back it up? Leave or we guarantee our own Elimination? Deterrence may work if we think they are not flat out suicidal.. That they have not simply rolled across the Korean Peninsula anytime between Korean War and Today makes me think they have some Cognition of Force Equations and pursuing Nuclear Arms aimed at North America does not change this unless to Force the US out of the Game…
    Retaliation? – It is game over for them by that point and obviously yes Deterrence is not working…
    Personally I think Deterrence WILL Work on North Korea to certain extent, they will still misbehave and push Margains but it is not in anyones interests there to get wiped out. Of course you may disagree but I can speak only of my own Analysis and Perception.
    As for Flynn? I think that was other Topic I mentioned him in, and I have no Doubts as like many you probably are right and he simply ticked the Right Boxes for Promotion… I hope it did not come out as Endorsing him (Honestly I do not know his Profile so well to comment, but I might have some strong Words of others…)

  44. turcopolier says:

    No. This not a seminar debate, not is it a war college military/political war game. The penalty for error could be several million American deaths. Korean deaths? Regrettable if necessary. pl

  45. Grazhdanochka says:

    The Path North Korea takes will probably determine which they find easier…
    Increased Accuracy
    Heavier Warheads..
    Obviously they would prefer a good means of both, but my guess is the Former is the ultimate Goal – MIRV….

  46. Eric Newhill says:

    Fred, Apparently B is a graduate of the BND’s super secret version of stargate. He stares at pictures of KJU and reads his thoughts, looks into his eyes and knows he has a good soul. He looks at the USA on a map and gets evil vibes.
    The leftists have really found a new BFF in KJU. As I’ve said previously about this topic, America haters of feather flock together.
    Here I thought I was only person on this blog that rejects the notion that KJU can be trusted with nukes.
    I still say that an end game (of KJU’s) can be that he obtains enough nuclear capability to hold SoKo allies off from intervention while he attacks across the DMZ. Also, that he might pass the tech to other enemies of the USA. A miscalculation in either case? Yes. The history of the world is rife with massive military miscalculations; gambles that didn’t pan out.
    Finally, it’s pretty easy to foresee some kind of terrible accident occurring sooner or later with all of those missiles flying somewhat willy nilly through the skies and over other countries. The issue has been kicked down the road by too many previous administrations. The piper will paid now or paid even bigger in the future.
    Now the America haters will reply with a litany of “America does it too” anecdotes

  47. mongo says:

    Hello Sir,
    I think that the psychological impact of a nuclear weapon hitting anywhere in North America would be overwhelming even if it hit a completely unpopulated area. Regardless of whether North Korea survives such an atrocity, everyone’s lives will be different.
    My $0.02,

  48. Grazhdanochka says:

    Indeed the Penalties for Failure could be huge….
    I do however seem to recall Advocacy of such strikes on USSR and PRC once upon a Time…. In both cases the USA learned to deal with them and those new Nuclear Powers in turn learned also how to wield it with Caution.
    Maybe I am crazy or utmost Optimist, and indeed neither here or Reality is ‘War Game’ Free of Consequence – But I think we can agree that one can hope I am right as opposed to facing the reality you are suggesting may be Case.
    The US will need to make that ultimate Decision based on the best of its Judgement from the Data it recieves… I respectfully find myself to other Side of what you are suggesting but I can see why you may see it as you do…
    I do not consider myself Alarmed at all by current Developments – but if even you are well suggesting Alarm of it – Then I admit I maybe am wrong on how the US will see and deal with it..

  49. FkDahl says:

    First time I called a girl her dad answered. I politely asked if “Mary” was home. One moment he said. Seconds later Mary picks up the phone and gushes “Peter?!”. That would have been OK if my name was Peter. Ouch.

  50. Richard says:

    I read the whole discussion and I am surprised how many people brought up the assumption that the North Korean leadership is either insane, or suicidal. (“Deterrence doesn’t work on them.”) You seem to connect it to the assumption that North Korea wants to develop the ICBMs for a nuclear first strike by them.
    What is the evidence for these assumptions?

  51. blue peacock says:

    Pat Buchanan on the NorKo ICBM test.

    Yet it is a time for truth: Our demand for “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” is not going to be met, absent a U.S. war and occupation of North Korea.
    Kim saw how Bush II, when it served U.S. interests, pulled out of our 30-year-old ABM treaty with Moscow. He saw how, after he gave up all his WMD to reach an accommodation with the West, Moammar Gadhafi was attacked by NATO and ended up being lynched.
    He can see how much Americans honor nuclear treaties they sign by observing universal GOP howls to kill the Iranian nuclear deal and bring about “regime change” in Tehran, despite Iran letting U.N. inspectors roam the country to show they have no nuclear weapons program.
    For America’s post-Cold War enemies, the lesson is clear:
    Give up your WMD, and you wind up like Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein. Build nuclear weapons that can threaten Americans, and you get respect.
    Kim Jong Un would be a fool to give up his missiles and nukes, and while the man is many things, a fool is not one of them.
    We are nearing a point where the choice is between a war with North Korea in which thousands would die, or confirming that the U.S. is not willing to put its homeland at risk to keep Kim from keeping what he already has — nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.
    Is the genie out of the bottle? Do we have to accept NorKo as a nuclear weapons state just as we accepted Israel, India and Pakistan? Will South Korea and Japan now pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles? Why are China & Russia seemingly quiet when they are neighbors who would be on the receiving end of any fallout?

  52. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    It seems the question is not whether I am willing the risk the death of a US city – the question is whether President Trump is willing to risk it (and my opinion counts for nada).
    In that regards, My impression is that the Trump strategy viz NoKo has to date been highly mismatched with the very rapid progress NoKo has achieved. It seems to me that there are two options – the IC underestimated NoKO capabilities or they assessed them correctly and President Trump ignored the IC.
    I tend to think it likely a combination – SIGINT is the wrong tool for a hyper-paranoid country like NoKo with remedial to non-existent networks to hack. However, I suspect that the real problem is that Trump doesn’t listen to anyone (who is not close family).
    Implication: Trump will blame the IC (deserving or not since otherwise he would have to blame himself) and double down by ignoring revised assessments. In such case I do not see President Trump risking the impact the possible destruction of a US city on his brand.
    It is reasonable that NoKo progress could have been unanticipated?

  53. Eric Newhill says:

    KJU hasn’t been in power for 50 years.
    In your experience do things remain static for ever? Sons are identical to fathers in every way? If that’s you got, it isn’t very confidence inspiring.

  54. charly says:

    The Ukraine missile factory lived of Russian export orders and was in a region that voted for the Party of the regions. It is obvious that all those workers love America and don’t have money issues so i seriously doubt that they would help NK.
    ps. I’m sarcastic.

  55. eakens says:

    I’m sure there is some element of all this, where NK has some traders sitting around shorting the market right before every missile launch announcement. That’s one way to feed the people.
    Let no good crisis should go to waste…

  56. charly says:

    What about South Korea? What do you think their reaction will be on a nuked North Korea. It is not like the South Korean left is in love with the US and they are at the moment in power.

  57. ked says:

    What I see as having changed are the underlying facts that drive policy. The fact that NKo is believed to be close to fielding a nuclear-tipped ICBM. I’m reminded of the Berlin Brigade. I suppose a terrible sacrifice of US troops might make some feel less guilty about the unfortunate loss of a few million S Koreans. I am one of those that believe nuclear war is a different paradigm from wars past.

  58. Fred says:

    “…he might pass the tech to…” There are a couple hundred other countries he could pass that on too.

  59. Fred says:

    Buchanon is wrong in his analysis but the hand wringing gestures must feel good. ” Moammar Gadhafi was attacked by NATO …” and the NATO member states’ analysis of how those western educated Libyans were going to take over and run a more peacefull and pro-European government turned out to be wrong. “Clinton, Bush II, Obama” were all part of the same ideological mindset that believes a new utopian man has appeared on the planet and all that is needed is to sweep away the old structures of governance for him to come forward and usher in a new utopia.
    “Why are China & Russia seemingly quiet when they are neighbors who would be on the receiving end of any fallout?” Why are they quite when they know a couple decades after Rocket Man’s great victory he might pull the same extortionist trick on them?

  60. With all due respect Colonel……
    The PRK / RF have made it clear that a pre-emptive strike on the DPRK means
    war with them PROVIDED the DPRK does not conduct a pre-emptive strike on the US of it’s own.
    My crystal ball says…………….
    DPRK will use the new missile as the first stage of a satellite launcher.
    DPRK will possibly modify the 15 via addition of a 3rd engine, and shortening to 67% of existing length for first stage use.
    DPRK will use one of the 15’s engines to power second stage.
    DPRK will launch numerous satellites with the above.
    Un announced DPRK will include killer satellites with MIRVs in the above,
    containing H-bombs
    DPRK will confidentially advise PRC/RF of this.
    DPRK will demand unilateral US withdrawal from Korean Peninsula and end to
    DPRK will explode a nuke above atmosphere in Atlantic Ocean from one of the MIRVS, un announced as where from.
    This will take a year or so.

  61. turcopolier says:

    Dr. George Oprisko
    I don’t believe for a minute that the PRC or RF would commit suicide by initiating a nuclear war with the US over the fate of North Korea. As for the rest of your imaginings, you have made the case for a pre-emptive US attack on NoKo, one that is thoroughly crippling. pl

  62. Peter VE says:

    KJU’s aim is to stay alive, and not suffer the fates of Hussein or Ghaddafi. If he really wants to deter an American attack, he could build a nuclear bomb with a dead man switch in a shipping container, and ship the container to sit in some major American city. With 16,000 containers coming in every day, the odds are pretty good it would never be found. They then let us know that one or more may exist.

  63. A. Pols says:

    It seems to me that some of the principal participants in this debate are getting emotionally “het up” and losing analytical perspective..
    Just remarking.
    Turning the clock back a year or two and then fast-forwarding to now, it looks like the NoKo nuke/missile program has undergone a swift evolution and are we (USA and related) in a position to turn events back to a “status quo ante”?
    Realities have shifted rapidly. What’s to be done? Lots of scribblers are edging towards some sort of carefully calibrated use of force solution. But that would only work out well if all the pieces fell precisely into place, and the calculations of what and who the pieces are seem less than impressive. Hell, we can’t predict the weather a week out and we all recall what a facile solution the Iraq operation of 2003 turned out to be.
    What’s at risk taking the path of military solution versus the risk of learning to live with the reality of NoKo?
    As Mike Tyson said: “Everyone has a plan right up until he gets punched in the face”. And LBJ said: “I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in”. Maybe that’s not an exact quote, but close enough.
    Nobody here should infer that I’m trying to taunt them; I’m not doing that, only asking a question.
    I still maintain that NoKo’s goal is in the end only to be left unmolested and that we’d be better off reaching an accord with them despite any loss of face we might incur through “negotiating with an inferior”. It would probably be easier in a few years to coopt them anyway once an accord had been reached and the respective parties cooled off.

  64. ked says:

    I am framing the argument in juxtaposition with that of a controversial statement made about a village battle in the VN War. I know I use quotes (& parentheses) too much… I’ll keep working on that. And a previous response to your question apparentlyb did not get through – pilot error on an old iPhone, no doubt.

  65. FourthAndLong says:

    We are exceedingly close to having to accept them once and for all as a capable nuclear power. It’s virtually now or never.

  66. turcopolier says:

    I post comments that you or others send me if i think they are contributory and not just troll activity. As for the quote from VN, the captain that made the comment to a reporter was a friend of mine. he was an advisor to Vietnamese forces trying to recapture the village during TET 1968. It was a deliberately ironic remark. pl

  67. Terry says:

    Untreated waste in fields whether spread by farmers or by people using the fields as a toilet is well known to cause disease and stunts growth. North Koreans are around 1.5-3 inches shorter than South Koreans. In India stunted growth is rampant even amongst the wealthy due to open defecation practices in urban areas. Whenever I get impressed by high tech and human progress I think of the fact that over a billion people still defecate in the open, over 2.5 billion don’t have access to any sanitary facilities, over 80% of human waste goes directly into ground water untreated, and over 200 million farmers use human waste on their fields – and with globalization some of those products are ending up on your dinner table. Improved sanitation is probably the single most important thing that could be done to improve the health of the entire world and the environment. So it does directly tie to the comment that NK’s achievements are done against a background of a weakened population. There is truth in that we in the west aren’t doing enough and that sewage sludge on farmlands is a real problem but we are worlds ahead of most. Lots of info on this with a quick google. And I second our Host’s remark – digging into slang dictionaries I got your comment. Being disrespectful and rude makes your communication worthless and accomplishes nothing.
    20 facts I can’t unsee 🙁
    Sewage Sludge on our farmland probably without major pathogens but with unknown amounts of metals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

  68. turcopolier says:

    Yes. someone mentioned earlier that German farmers used to do the same thing. that must have been right after WW2 when they were really poor. When I lived in Germany during the early occupation Americans resident in the country were cautioned to soak any produce bought on the local economy to soak it is something (dilute bleach perhaps) before using it. pl

  69. John Minnerath says:

    What years were you there? We were at 7th Army Headquarters (Patch Barracks) ’56-’59.

  70. turcopolier says:

    John Minnerath
    47-48 as a dependent in Bremen and Frankfurt and 69-70 as a major in Frankfurt. pl

  71. Larry M. says:

    Col. Lang,
    To avoid risking the fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Kadafi, it should be more than enough for Kim Jong Un to have a capability to strike the U.S. Pacific coast, if North Korea’s conventional options for destroying Seoul, etc. are not in themselves believed to be sufficient.
    Extending the range of North Korean missiles to cover the entire continental United States would not only seem to invite an American pre-emptive strike, as you have already noted. It would also seem wildly in excess of requirements, even from the North Korean leadership’s view. Does anyone have an explanation other than the obvious truth that North Korea is ruled without the checks and balances that we have in our western democracies?

  72. Babak Makkinejad says:

    War and then what?
    All these wars since the collapse of Peace of Yalta, have they made any country in the world more secure? US? PRC? Japan?

  73. johnT says:

    No implied or intended rudeness, just playing around with common folk lingo.
    You peeps really need to get out or get laid.
    You are not changing the world, just exposing the horror of it, and I enjoy the perspective.
    Calm down.

  74. Amir says:

    He might see himself in Bush/Obama/Trump and presumes that only where he resides (the capital) counts.

  75. Dabbler says:

    How many bombs in containers are already within the borders? Who sent them in if there are any? I have always wondered who might find such a strategy advantageous.

  76. blue peacock says:

    Why do you believe that Buchanan is wrong in his analysis?
    His conclusion is in my words “shit or get off the pot”. Is the US gonna annihilate North Korea, since Kim Jong Un is showing no signs of curbing his nuclear & missile programs? Are DC and of course the American people willing to deal with the consequences of that act? Nothing comes for free as you know.

  77. turcopolier says:

    john T
    Offense taken kid. Get lost. pl

  78. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Very good, now I hope every one can grasp why an alliance of US, Japan, Australia, and India to contain China is a very sick joke.
    They need first to get latrines built in India….

  79. b says:

    A good test for one’s arguments of nuclear strategy is often to use them from the position of the other side. Then ask yourself if that argument still holds or why it may not have held in the past.
    “… it should be more than enough for the U.S. to have a capability to strike the western Soviet Union …
    Extending the range of U.S. missiles to cover the entire Soviet Union would seem wildly in excess of requirements, even from the U.S. leadership’s view. Does anyone have an explanation other than the obvious truth …”

  80. ked says:

    I thought you might’ve known the context, thanks. I wasn’t trying to troll.
    It is ironic that our unfinished war in Korea has lead, 65 years later, to a strategic defense posture on the part of both NKo & the US that threatens mass destruction upon the people we fought with, for & against. And ourselves on this continent, to boot.

  81. turcopolier says:

    They had military industrial facilities (SOVMIC) and population centers all over the country. For MAD to be effective it had to threaten total destruction. Their Red SIOP threatened us the same way. pl

  82. Fred says:

    He’s making the same appeasement calculation as the prior three presidents.

  83. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Given John T’s rather peculiar use of English, my first guess is Israeli troll. Second is Saudi troll. Maybe there is no difference. Definitely not a native English speaker.
    Thank you for putting up with such characters on SST’s behalf.

Comments are closed.