Kim Jong-un’s unwelcome contribution to this year’s Fourth of July fireworks: the test launch of what may be North Korea’s first true intercontinental ballistic missile.
“It’s unprecedented in the sense that it’s performed the feat of demonstrating the capacity to deliver a payload over longer range than ever before,” “This missile flew for about 40 minutes. In this particular case, they chose to fly it almost directly straight up, and then pretty much straight back down. “It went to about 2100 kilometers, we’re told, perhaps somewhat longer. The length of time and the amount of distance covered suggest that if the trajectory were flatter, it would reach intercontinental ranges, at least to Alaska and perhaps beyond in the continental United States.”
“In any event, what it really indicates is that this is a regime that intends to continue to refine, and perfect, and expand the capacity to threaten the United States, which is bad enough even without this long-range missile,” he continued.
“As we’ve discussed before, one of the things that worries me the most about the North ”
Gaffney explained that such attacks do not require precision targeting, miniaturized nuclear warheads, or reentry shielding, which seem to be areas where North Korean technology remains lacking. Instead, an EMP attack could be carried out with “a single nuclear weapon, perhaps not even a very sophisticated one” detonated in orbit somewhere over North America.
“They could conceivably take down the electric grid of the United States, and with it our country,” he warned. “That’s the worrying threat to me, irrespective of the length of the missile’s range.”
“We’re being encouraged to believe they haven’t figured out how to miniaturize nuclear weapons, or how to make them with these kinds of ballistic missile delivery systems. If that’s true—and I’m suspicious.
“I must say, because they’ve been working hard at it for a long time, with a lot of help from former Soviet and Russian engineers, as well as probably Chinese and I would guess Iranians, for that matter,” Gaffney observed.
“Either way, again, even if they don’t have the capacity to put a small package in a re-entry vehicle capable of withstanding the heat of coming back into the atmosphere, by simply putting a fairly crude nuclear weapon on a satellite—which they have I believe now two orbiting the Earth, including overflying this country regularly—at about the optimal altitude for one of these so-called EMP electromagnetic pulse attacks.
“They’re already in a position, I think, to threaten mortal damage to this country,” he judged.
Gaffney called it a bitter lesson of history that “problems like this, threats, generally don’t get attenuated by the passage of time—they tend to become more and more serious.”
“We’ve certainly seen that with the Kim dynasty and North Korea,” he said.
Marlow asked which other geopolitical forces have been derelict in their duty to prevent North Korea from reaching this technological threshold.
“For some months now, President Trump has been giving the Chinese the benefit of the doubt that they want to be helpful to us in constraining their North Korean—it’s not just their allies, it’s essentially their puppets,” Gaffney replied. “There would be no regime in North Korea, let’s be clear, without the active support and interventions of the Chinese.”
“The Chinese involvement in this metastasizing threat was on evidence in a fairly recent display of military hardware in the squares of Pyongyang, on the occasion of some anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the founder of this dynasty,” he recalled.
“There was a canister—a very large canister, we don’t have any idea whether anything was in it or not—but it looked a lot like one that the Chinese use to house their long-range missiles.”
More importantly, Gaffney noted this canister was transported through the streets of Pyongyang aboard a mobile missile launch system “that had been clearly provided to them by the Chinese.”
“What we’re seeing is evidence that far from helping us, the Chinese are playing at best a double game, and most likely are primarily applauding as you say, and certainly enabling, this threat to continue to grow—to us, to our friends and allies in the region, our troops there as well, but increasingly now to us here at home as well,” he charged.
Marlow asked for Gaffney’s advice on avoiding nuclear war with North Korea. Gaffney said that could only be done by ending the Kim Jong-un regime.
“I’m afraid that as long as this guy is in power, it will continue to become more and more dangerous to us, Alex,” he said. “The hard question of course is, how do you accomplish that? There are a number of ways in which you can, I believe, create conditions under which the regime is going to be imperiled.”