Japan, S. Korea and the U.S. are on high alert following North Korea’s launch of mid-range ballistic missiles last Saturday. In response, the three countries released a joint statement on Monday of this week warning N. Korea will “pay the price” if they carry out another nuclear test despite warnings from the international community.
Additionally, Japan has promised to use one of its destroyers in the Sea of Japan to shoot down any further launches that may threaten Japan. The Aegis destroyer Kirishima, carrying Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptors was sent to the Sea of Japan with orders to shoot down anything that ventured into Japanese territory.
Readers will recall that last week, N. Korea responded to a UN Security Council condemnation of its missile launches by warning of “a new form of nuclear test” for bolstering up its nuclear deterrence.” According to a report issued this week by the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, considered the premier U.S. think tank on the region, this new form of nuclear test the N. Koreans are referring to is not a question of what kind of nuclear device is tested, but how a device is tested. Their analysis points to three possibilities:
Multiple simultaneous detonations, a full yield atmospheric nuclear test, or demonstration of a nuclear-armed missile.
As previously reported by Threat Journal on multiple occasions in the past, the fact that N. Korea has been able to successfully launch a satellite into orbit demonstrates significant technical advances for their missile program and most certainly puts the idea of a nuclear armed launch vehicle well within reach.
Which leads us into a piece of related news:
A classified report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department and leaked this week warns that N. Korea is easily able to deliver on its threats to strike the U.S. with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack. A copy of the highly sensitive report obtained by Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the congressional advisory Task Force on National and Homeland Security, finds that N. Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack the U.S. from the south.
At present, the U.S. has no early warning radars or interceptors to stop a missile from the south. DHS conducted the study after the N. Korean nuclear crisis last Spring during which N. Korea’s leadership threatened a “preemptive” nuclear strike on the U.S. and then released videos depicting a nuclear attack on Washington.
According to Pry, “The N. Koreans are seeing what they can get away with. It shows that Pyongyang is planning something big against the U.S.”
In the classified study, the Department of Homeland Security recommended that if N. Korea attempted to deploy either the Unha-3 space launch vehicle or the Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile, the Pentagon should destroy the missile on its pad before launch.
As always, AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the situation on the Korean Peninsula and will immediately notify service subscribers of changes in the overall threat environment, pending nuclear tests or missile launches, as events warrant.