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June 22, 2006

Former Clinton officials call for strike on North Korea's missile program

Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry argue that North Korea cannot be allowed to test its new long-range ballistic missile. Experts estimate that the missile could deliver a nuclear warhead to United States.

Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive -- the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea's nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry. [WaPo]

Remind me again why we attacked Iraq, a country with no WMDs, and ignored North Korea?

Update: Robert Koehler offers some compelling reasons not to strike North Korea over its nukes, and Francis has more.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Former Clinton officials call for strike on North Korea's missile program:

» U.S. weighs shootdown of N. Korea missile from Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator
The Bush administration is weighing responses to a possible North Korean missile test that include a [Read More]

» "A Few Bloody Weeks." from The Agonist
Last night I highlighted this op-ed by Asia wonks Ashton Carter and William J. Perry. My first reading was pretty breathless, I admit. But then I sat down and re-read it. So many of the assumptions they make in the op-ed seem so wildly off base to me that [Read More]

Comments

>the prospect of being guaranteed lifetime employment

In the context of a post-Cold War nuclear arms race, the word that begs and pleads for clarification is "lifetime."

I see virtually no sgnificance to N. Korea developing a long range missile for themselves.

If they wish to make a single nuclear strike against the US for purely vindictive reasons, they can stick a nuke on a cargo ship out of South Korea headed for the port of Long Beach. They would destroy a strategic and economic asset and hundreds of thousands of people at the same time. We really have no measures in place to stop that. A single missile, or a few missiles are not as big a threat as this.

The danger of ICBMs is that they allow a massive nuclear attack when many of them are launched simultaneously. Development of a single missile is only troublesome in that it is a step to the creation of an arsenal of missiles. If they go down that path, while simultaneously reprocessing spent feul rods into hundreds of nuclear warheads, then they become a genuine existential threat to the US. I don't think they will be able to get to the end of that path, and I hope they realize this.

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