The North Koreans sent the U.S. a gift on its July 4th Independence Day. In the morning, -- their time, it was still
July 3rd evening in Washington -- they launched a missile. It reached a height
of 1741 miles (2802 Km), which was 400 miles higher than the earlier May
14 launch. Calling it the Hwasong-14, they have claimed it has a range of
10,000 km and can reach anywhere in the world -- a range greater
than 5,500 km is considered an ICBM. This is now their 11th missile
launch this year and their expertise cannot be denied. It is not
unlikely that they already have a warhead to fit since rational thinking
leads to concurrent development.
Now what? The U.S. can send additional men or warships to the area in a show of force. But what else? The President leans on China in a tweet response but China has previously demurred.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping was on a visit to Moscow and at a joint news conference with President Putin, the latter proposed pushing forward their joint initiative on North Korea. It calls for freezes in ballistic-missile tests and also dealing with U.S. deployment of weapons in South Korea. He is referring of course to the THAAD ABM system installed in South Korea.
The Russians are particularly worried about the girdling of their country with ABM systems. Mr. Putin has pointed out previously how these have destabilized the prior balance. Russia now is faced with a launch-on-warning choice -- a kind of use it or lose it, because a U.S. first strike coupled with the ABMs present the potential of neutralizing the Russian ICBMs.
The Dr. Strangelove
who thought up this first-strike capability must have been just about as
nuts as the movie character for by creating a hair trigger he has
brought us to the doorstep of World War III.
Will we see reason and dismantle these sites, or will Russia eventually be forced to eliminate them unilaterally? And then what will be the consequences? Is a reality TV star and property/casino developer the best equipped to handle them? Unsettling questions all of them, but this is the world we live in.
While our president speculates on China to 'put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all' in his tweet, he forgets it is probably more likely China is helping its ally along to secure a bigger and bigger bargaining chip. Are the days of the THAAD system in South Korea numbered? One can add, it is not particularly liked by the new South Korean president for it makes his country a target, and he, in contrast with his predecessor, favors a political diplomatic strategy in dealing with the North.