• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Despite Media’s Claims, North Korea Can’t Strike Continental US

Photo by Stefan Krasowski | CC BY 2.0

Last month, North Korea conducted two missile tests that were designed to demonstrate that the isolated country had achieved a major advancement in its missile technology. North Korea’s missile tests on July 3 and July 28 were immediately declared by the mainstream press to be successful tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which puts part or all of the US in range of a strike. Hawkish “experts” immediately sprung into action and stated the missile tests undeniably proved the North can now strike the United States.

The corporate media’s hyping of North Korea’s “threat” instantly began pushing the country towards a catastrophic war. The Trump administration, which has already been immersed in chaos, sent mixed messages in response and Americans became alarmed. Polling from the beginning of August found that 62% of Americans now believe North Korea posed a “very serious threat” to the United States, a jump of 14 points since March. Fourteen years after the disaster in Iraq was sold to Americans on the pretense of WMDs, which never existed, the mainstream media continue to push war hungry narratives.

It was against this war-frenzied backdrop that Trump unloaded a series of outrageous and off the cuff threats, signifying the US may consider a nuclear first strike on North Korea. An attack along the lines the president was threatening would likely kill at least a million people and possibly trigger China to come to North Korea’s defense.

Then on August 9, a report surfaced that the Pentagon had not only already drawn up plans for the attack, but it has been actively rehearsing a preemptive strike on North Korea since May. The Pentagon has identified “two dozen” North Korean targets, including launch sites, testing grounds, and support facilities. On August 10, a top war planner said the only effective first strike against North Korea would involve multiple nuclear strikes by the US.

“From what we have heard from the way he [the President] stated the ‘fire and fury,’ and from what we got from Secretary Mattis, I have to believe that the plan is to use nuclear weapons against North Korea,” Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner.

We now find ourselves on the brink of a nuclear war. Just six months into office, Trump’s inexperienced and inept foreign policy has already led to a major nuclear crisis. Some experts have compared this week to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Yet despite the recent events surrounding North Korea, a new report by independent experts contradicts the mainstream media’s narrative. The report, published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, finds that North Korea’s recently launched missiles weren’t actually ICBMs and aren’t able to reach the continental US.

The lead author of the report is Ted Postol, a professor at MIT and a former scientific advisor for the Pentagon.

In an interview with me, Dr. Postol said the media reports on North Korea’s ability to strike the continental US were “news generated from nothing”.

“Nobody knows anything for certain about North Korea’s nuclear program, we only some basic things. For example, we know they probably got the plans to guide them from A.Q. Khan (Pakistani nuclear scientist), so we can make some guesses from that.”

“We know nothing about the utility of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. These could be weapons that are only usable in lab-like setting or they may be deployable. We don’t know.”

Dr. Postol says North Korea’s missiles likely don’t have the capability to carry a missile the weight of a first-generation nuclear weapon to the West Coast of the US. He also finds it very unlikely that North Korea has mastered the ability to create a warhead that can handle the immense forces created when a missile reenters the atmosphere.

On August 8, the Washington Post reported a leaked Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, which stated North Korea had successfully created “a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles”.

The report is “essentially empty”, Postol stated.

“Who knows what is meant by a miniaturized warhead, and we also don’t know the degree of confidence the DIA had in the assessment.”

Skepticism about the widely reported claims on North Korea’s missiles ability is not limited to Postol and his coauthors, Dan Albright, a former UN weapons inspector said the DIA report ignored “uncertainties and caveats”.

Albright said North Korea’s recently used missile system is unlikely to be reliable after just two launches.

“Countries spend a lot of time working this problem to try to build up what they call the reliability of the warhead in a delivery system, and it just takes time,” Albright said. “I think I would be skeptical that North Korea can do it right now.”

Dr. Postol was adamant that his report didn’t intended to portray North Korea as being unable to ever strike the US, but rather, to indicate that we have time to solve the situation diplomatically.

“I think they’re still 4 to 6 years away from having a nuclear weapon that can reach the lower 48 states.”

If the administration feels rushed due to false reports about North Korea’s capability, they may make a rash decision. If the Trump administration did attack and North Korea responded with a missile launched at South Korea, Japan, or Guam, Dr. Postol said the US missile defense system was unlikely to intercept the attack.

“The systems are so unreliable it would almost be an accident if they worked. They’ve never been tested under real conditions and they can be defeated by very basic countermeasures.”

The lack of a reliable missile defense system would seem to be one more reason the Trump administration should slow down and pursue diplomacy.

“We have no choice but to develop diplomatic agreements, though I’m not saying that would be easy. The negotiations have to be done in a way that North Korea doesn’t feel like it has no option, and they shouldn’t be expected to give up their weapons systems as a precondition of talks, right now that’s their only leverage,” Dr. Postol said.

“We have to solve this issue, but we have time.”

More articles by:

Paul Gottinger is a journalist based in Madison, WI whose work focuses on the Middle East. He can be reached via Twitter @paulgottinger or email: paul.gottinger@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
Jonathan Cook
Israel Prepares to Turn Bedouin Citizens into Refugees in Their Own Country
Stan Cox
Healing the Rift Between Political Reality and Ecological Reality
Jeff Klein
Syria, the Kurds, Turkey and the U.S.: Why Progressives Should Not Support a New Imperial Partition in the Middle East
George Ochenski
The Governor, the Mining Company and the Future of a Montana Wilderness
Charles Pierson
Bret Stephens’ American Fantasy
Ted Rall
The First Thing We Do, Let’s Fire All the Cops
Jon Rynn
Saving the Green New Deal
Ajamu Baraka
Syria: Exposing Western Radical Collaboration with Imperialism
Binoy Kampmark
A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Down Side of Impeachment
Harvey Wasserman
What Really Happened to American Socialism?
Tom Engelhardt
American Brexit
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail