North Korea and Nuclear Weapons

By:  @kavika, 4 months ago
Comments: 68 ..


By Kavika

There are a number of countries around the world that posses nuclear weapons. IMO, one of the most dangerous is North Korea for a number of reasons.

Namely they will sell their expertise to anyone. The ''Dear Leader'' of North Korea is unbalanced and determined to stay in power no matter what.

It has been stated that if they ever launched a nuclear warhead at the United States that they would be turned to glass in a minute.

Let's take a look at that, and the possible consequences of such an action on our part if indeed North Korea did launch nuclear warheads at the United States.

I believe we have to go back to the Korea War of the early 1950's to start to understand the consequences of a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and N.K.

When N.K. invaded South Korea the U.S. had just finished fighting a world war. Our military had been downsized and allowed to get soft. We were totally unprepared for the invasion of South Korea by the north.

The North Korea army overran most of Korea and pushed the U.S. and it's allies to the Pusan Peninsula and within days of driving us into the sea.

A strong stand by U.S. troops and allies stopped the disaster from happening. From there we counter attacked and drove the North Koreans army back to North Korea..The one thing that prevented NK from pushing us into the sea was their lack of supply lines or the ability to reinforce their troops. This proved to be their downfall. But we saw that their were tough, no quarter given adversaries.

As the U.S. Army pushed north and crossed into North Korea, the Chinese became more alarmed. They  had just finished fighting a world war, and after that, a bloody civil war. Mao Tse Tung was in charge of China now, and did not trust the U.S. And probably with good reason since the it was the U.S. that supported Chiang Kai Shek in the Chinese Civil War.

Mao did not want to see U.S. and Allied Troops in North Korea and sent many warning that the Chinese would enter the war if the U.S. came up to the Yalu River or crossed it.

China had always thought of Korea as a buffer for their soft underbelly. Any one that threatened that buffer would be subject to attack. And if U.S. troops kept North Korea as a permanent base, one of Mao's greatest fears would be realized. China surrounded by the enemy.

The U.S. did not believe that the Chinese would enter the war, and the warnings were ignored. MacArthur pushed to the Yalu and Chinese entered the war driving the U.S. back across the North Korea and back into South Korea.

Again the U.S. was in dire straits and were now facing a much larger army than the North Koreans could muster. At one point MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons against the Chinese, and it was taken into serious consideration by the general staff and Truman himself.

Mao made it clear in a statement regarding the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. ''If you use the bomb and kill a million people'' we have hundred's  of millions.

The weak point in the Chinese army was their inability to supply their troops. Don't be mistaken, they were dedicated fighters and would not be rolled over.

The ''police action'' ended in a draw at the cost of tens of thousands of lives on both sides.

Fast forward to 2016...If the North Koreans launched nuclear warheads at the U.S. and the U.S. retaliated and destroyed much of North Korea, the fallout would hit South Korea, a staunch ally of the U.S. it would also hit China. Would China stand by and not retaliate? What would the consequences be?

Remember that North Korea is the buffer to the underbelly of China.

These are the hard questions that we must think of if North Korea does launch nuclear warheads.

The U.S. today is not the U.S. of the early 1950's. Also remember that China today is not the China of the 1950's.

China has a vast well equipped army, navy and air force. Something that they did not have in the 1950's. China isn't some small country ill equipped for a major war. This is a country that is a world power and it has NUCLEAR WEAPONS...

''The Art of War'' written by Sun Tzu 1500 years ago is still relevant  today...''Know your enemy''...To many times the U.S. has entered into a war without knowing the enemy.

If you wish to comment, debate, add to or challenge the article, please do.

If you have nothing to add, please don't.



link 11/19/16 04:06:26PM @kavika:

My opinion of the possibility of one of the worlds ''hot spots'' exploding.

link 11/19/16 04:09:44PM @pepe:

What we need to do is send John Kerry there to promise them nuclear technology and increase the threat. Then we can pay them millions for hostages. We also probably have a few Billion of their money tied up too. Give it back to them.

It worked for us in Iran it can work for us here.

link 11/19/16 04:15:47PM @kavika:

A couple of things BF...China has the technology and the nuclear weapons. as does NK, but NK is still developing the delivery system.

Kerry or Iran have nothing to do with the article or discussion...Please take the time to think out a response that deals with the probability of the premise of the article.


link 11/19/16 04:24:32PM @pepe:

Yes and Iran's allies have the technology and delivery systems too. I am more concerned about Iran than North Korea because they state their purpose is to destroy us and our allies.

So what would you do if you were in charge? How would Secretary of Defense Kavika handle this threat?

link 11/19/16 04:44:45PM @kavika:

I'll deal with the subject of the article, North Korea and China. We can discuss Iran and their allies in a separate article, BF.

If NK launched nuclear warheads against the U.S. there are a couple of questions. Could we destroy them on the path to the U.S. if we did, that would present one set of problems. NK is fairly well isolated now, do we risk retaliating with nukes with China on North Korea's doorstep and with the military might that they have. Also contemplating the nuclear fall out that would have affects in the region. Or would we start a ground invasion of NK with the same China problem facing us?

These are very tough questions and what ever policy we took there would be counter reactions IMO.

Neither is a good option, but ones that would have to be considered, if not implemented.

The second scenario is that the nukes actually hit and destroyed the cities in the U.S. There we have no choice but to retaliate, the outcome would be that we would destroy NK. Now comes the aftermath, both in a nuclear fall out situation and what would China do.

All of the above leave us with nothing but tough, if not, impossible situations.

What would President BF do in these situations, since the president would be the final word, not the Secretary of Defense.

Balls in your park.

link 11/19/16 06:48:18PM @cerenkov:

NK has no technology to launch fission bombs against us. And their bombs are toys. See comment below.

Petey Coober
link 11/19/16 05:15:13PM @petey-coober:

That was an interesting historical summary of the Korean "police action" . Thanks for relating it in print KVK ...

link 11/19/16 05:21:27PM @kavika:

Thanks petey. The Korea War ushered in a whole new era, both military and political...

Page and pages could be written about the Korean War, it's  historical consequences, MacArthur, Truman etc etc.

The book my Max Hastings, ''The Korean War'' is an excellent read.

link 11/19/16 05:20:02PM @dowser:

I would hope that China would deal with them-- I mean, 1) it would be in their best interest to take care of NK, being right on their border, and 2) China needs us, too.  If they bomb us to oblivion, how are we ever going to pay them back?  

link 11/19/16 05:24:19PM @kavika:

I think that China would be in a difficult position as well Dowser. It's a nightmare scenario anyway you look at it.

LOL, I guess at that point, money isn't going to matter much.

link 11/19/16 07:22:02PM @dowser:

It never has, really...  And you're right!

Mark in Wyoming
link 11/19/16 05:33:10PM @mark-in-wyoming:

I think something that needs remembering , the war was never really ended , what we have been witness to for the past 50-60 years is an extended cease fire .

And something we should also consider as was stated the countries involved as benefactors have changed dramatically , both in scope and power , and views.

Personally right now ,I see NK as was stated a buffer state , but one that IS increasingly becoming a thorn in the side of its benefactor. If china pulled support economically , agriculturally , then there would no doubt be open hostilities opening up a war no one would win due to the MAD theory put into practice.

 In my view , with the way China has been normalizing relations world wide , just how long it allows NK to remain a thorn , ran by the same family as it has been since its inception under the old Soviet era, remains to be seen , and how long it actually remains to be a buffer to the underbelly as has been posited only exists as long as it is feasibly useful. 

In other words , they might outlive their usefulness and become a detriment to Chinese policy and desires for the area.. And cChina is a big player in that area.

link 11/19/16 05:43:43PM @kavika:

Thanks Mark, yes we have a extended cease fire since 1953...And many times during the period from 1953 to present there have been violent clashes at the DMZ.

China does in fact supply NK with much of it's needs and could in fact pull those supplies. In reading articles on that situation the Chinese are afraid that if NK collapsed that China would have an influx of  20 million people, something they don't need or want.

I think that this is behind their thinking on the Korean situation.

China is, as you said, extending it's presence world wide. It's just not in trade but they are pushing their military might also. The South China Sea for starters.

The Chinese are very pragmatic and look at situation in the long term, decades out. We, on the other hand, tend to see only about as far as the end of our nose.

The difference in world view between the Chinese and the US is considerable. How will this play into their hands if that hand is forced?


link 11/19/16 05:44:37PM @kavika:

Thanks Mark, yes we have a extended cease fire since 1953...And many times during the period from 1953 to present there have been violent clashes at the DMZ.

China does in fact supply NK with much of it's needs and could in fact pull those supplies. In reading articles on that situation the Chinese are afraid that if NK collapsed that China would have an influx of  20 million people, something they don't need or want.

I think that this is behind their thinking on the Korean situation.

China is, as you said, extending it's presence world wide. It's just not in trade but they are pushing their military might also. The South China Sea for starters.

The Chinese are very pragmatic and look at situation in the long term, decades out. We, on the other hand, tend to see only about as far as the end of our nose.

The difference in world view between the Chinese and the US is considerable. How will this play into their hands if that hand is forced?


One Miscreant
link 11/19/16 06:20:40PM @one-miscreant:

Interesting dialog. I would only add to the point, that the world is pretty far from the 1950's. Now there are missiles that target other missiles. The MADD equation is very different now. That's not a deescalation by any means, however, it does add another layer to first strike analysis. Shoot off a nuke and it'll get shot down. 

Being from the "duck and cover generation. I would rather hide under a schoolroom desk, than to film it with a phone. Give peace a chance...oh wait who has the codes now? Shyt...

link 11/19/16 07:34:42PM @kavika:

True, today's world is quite different than the 1950's. IMO, much more dangerous with the proliferation of nuclear devices.

One stupid move could result in mass devastation to the world.


link 11/19/16 06:45:09PM @cerenkov:

It is important to note that NK does not have any modern nuclear weapons. They possess a handful of weak fission bombs with yields smaller than our own conventional non-nuclear weapons. In my opinion, any smuggled bomb used against us, or more likely our allies, would be met with devastating response specifically against their plutonium reactor and military sites. There is virtually zero probability that China would risk the final war over such a response. Instead, they would simply absorb NK in the name of "humanitarian relief". NK is not an existential threat.

link 11/19/16 07:32:12PM @kavika:

Cerenkov, good points but in a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report that was released some time back they took a different view of the capabilities of North Korea.

IMO, what China would or would not do is up for speculation. The US never thought that China would attack us over Korea, yet they did. The close proximity of China to NK and the various sites that you mentioned could also play a factor in their response.

Of course today is a different story. The fact that they could deliver great damage to Japan or South Korea is also of concern. Perhaps at this point NK is not an existential threat to the US, but could be to neighboring countries, which are strong allies of the US.

In ways it's like a huge game of chess, moves depending on other moves, hoping that one or the other would take a certain tact, yet never knowing for sure until they do or don't.



link 11/19/16 07:44:26PM @cerenkov:

It's also a problem that will likely never be resolved. The amount of WG plutonium in the world is large and growing larger. The science behind a simple fission bomb is no longer very complex. With enough effort, and access to smuggled SNM, any nation can have a bomb. I don't think there are any simple solutions.

link 11/19/16 07:49:44PM @kavika:

I have to agree with you that there are no simple solutions. As you stated the science behind a fission bomb is no longer very complex.

Which makes the possibilities of a nuclear bomb being delivered in some way is higher now than anytime in memory.


link 11/19/16 07:52:23PM @cerenkov:

I agree. Also, I feel like the detonation of a fission bomb or a dirty bomb by a rogue nation or by a terrorist group is inevitable. We've made some progress in limiting access to plutonium, but NK, Iran, India, and Pakistan are still producing it.

link 11/19/16 07:57:08PM @kavika:

Since you brought up Pakistan and India, both with nuclear weapons and to say that they don't like each other would be a vast understatement. There again is another flash point, throw in China which border India and not the best of friends, we have the ingredients for a real go round. Add that to the terrorist groups operating in those areas and there you have it.

Do we know if China is producing ploutomium?

I agree that the possibility of a dirty bomb being detonated by a rouge nation or terrorist group is almost 100%.

link 11/19/16 08:06:05PM @kavika:

LOL, plutonium...spelling lessons on order.

link 11/19/16 08:14:04PM @cerenkov:

Most experts think China stopped producing plutonium once they achieved their stockpile goals. It's an expensive process.

link 11/19/16 08:19:44PM @kavika:

If the experts are correct and they no longer are producing it, it's one less nation on that front to concern ourselves about.

''It's an expensive process.'' Is there anyway that you can put that in terms that laymen can understand? For example, ''a million dollars for enough plutonium for one bomb''...something along those lines.


link 11/19/16 08:43:29PM @cerenkov:

That level of detail is classified. However, note that our stockpile of weapons is at its lowest point since the cold war, and all we are doing is maintaining the material. Nonetheless, the nuclear weapons budget at Los Alamos was over 1.5 billion dollars in 2015 alone.

Alternatively, plutonium does occur in infinitesimal quantities in nature. To get enough of that material for a single critical mass would cost 20 million dollars based on current commodity prices, but I doubt that is actually practical.

link 11/19/16 09:19:27PM @kavika:

But I have a NATO Crypto Top Secret clearance!! I should say that I had one, but it's been many moons ago now.

Anyhow, good information, thanks Cerenkov.

link 11/19/16 09:23:46PM @cerenkov:

I relinquished my clearance last week. I'm going on vacation for the rest of the month, and when I get back, I'll be consulting on a commercial nuclear medical isotope producer. I won't miss the clearance or the paperwork.

link 11/19/16 09:33:05PM @kavika:

My wife worked for Aerojet General in their warhead development department for some time and had a TSC. It was a pain in the ass when we went on vacation to a foreign country.

''I'll be consulting on a commercial nuclear medical isotope producer. I won't miss the clearance or the paperwork.''

What does that type of consulting consist of? In laymen terms.




link 11/19/16 09:40:49PM @cerenkov:

They are developing a process to generate controlled nuclear fission of intermediate enriched uranium, and then separate the fission product Mo99. Mo99 has a half-life of 6 days, and it decays into Tc99m. This isotope has a half-life of only 6 hours. It's vital for cancer screening and treatment.

I'll be performing the nuclear safety analysis, which involves modeling the system under normal and abnormal conditions, and designing sufficient controls to prevent a runaway reaction (criticality) and keep dose rates low enough (shielding analysis).

link 11/19/16 09:45:51PM @kavika:

Great, sound like it will be quite interesting. Helping save lives through science, can't beat that.

link 11/19/16 09:46:59PM @cerenkov:

Yes, this should be more satisfying than previous clients.

link 11/19/16 09:49:18PM @kavika:

I'm sure that it will more satisfying than other clients.

Good luck with the assignment.

link 11/19/16 10:17:03PM @cerenkov:


Buzz of the Orient
link 11/19/16 09:56:06PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

"The US never thought that China would attack us over Korea, yet they did."

As you said in the article, Kavika, McArthur pushed to the Yalu River, which is the border with China. Perhaps had there been good communications between China and the USA, China might have been assured the border would not be crossed, but obviously China considered it a threat because there might have been more than just reaching the river, but a build-up there that was more than required. You know a lot more about that history than I do.

At this point, I'm sure China is quite frustrated with NK, but on the other hand it is a big trade customer that China does not want to lose. China did take part with the USA in the discussions with NK that originally led to benefits from the USA and the closing down of nuclear facilities by NK. I am sure that China would continue to try to influence that maniac to watch his step.

link 11/19/16 10:05:19PM @kavika:

He not only pushed to the Yalu, he wanted to cross it into China. The US had many warnings from China not to do it or they would enter the war. They were good on their word.

An interesting side note is that once China entered and pushed the US back into South Korea, Mao wanted to prove a point and push the US completely out of Korea. He damn near succeeded but ran into the same problem as NK, supplying the troops became a huge problem for China because they simply at that time didn't have the resources (air power, tanks etc) to effectively carry the fight to the US. In that regard we were lucky.

IMO, China is probably quite frustrated with NK. The have many things that come into play with NK, and the little nut there is making things difficult for China.

link 11/20/16 08:33:31AM @kavika:

Perhaps some of our members could write or seed an article that has nothing to do with the current political situation. Imagine that, actually discussing something not political...

Come on folks give it a try.

link 11/20/16 08:36:45AM @pepe:

How about a semi-related topic Korean BBQ How to make Bulgogi?

link 11/20/16 08:41:50AM @kavika:

I prefer Mongolian BBQ, but what ever floats your boat BF.

I would suggest you write an article on the Mongol invasion of Japan and you can explain the ''Divine Wind'' portion of the story.

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom1
link 11/20/16 09:18:45AM @sister-mary-agnes-ample-bottom2:

''The Art of War'' written by Sun Tzu 1500 years ago is still relevant  today...''Know your enemy''...To many times the U.S. has entered into a war without knowing the enemy.


NK might not have suitable delivery method, but I guarantee they are in bed with people that do.  Scary as shit when one thinks about it.

Nice article, Kavika.  

link 11/20/16 09:21:57AM @kavika:

Thanks Sister,

I agree, we really have no idea what is what in NK. Much is simply guess work.

IMO a dangerous situation which could lead to some very dangerous situation involving the whole region.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
link 11/20/16 12:34:44PM @perrie-halpern:

A very informative article Kavika. Your opinions are very similar to my dad's. He is a Korean war vet. 

I think that if N. Korea hits us with a nuclear bomb, it will be a weak one. Don't get me wrong, it will kill a tens of thousands of people, but then comes the the question of retaliation.  

I think that we have to rethink that one nuke deserves another. What I mean, is that we should retaliate, but not necessarily with nukes. Bomb the hell out of their main cities, much like we did in Dresden, but not use nukes. That way, we don't risk a fight with China, and we don't harm South Korea, but N Korea gets back what it deserves. By not responding, we are sending a message that we are weak and they will be emboldened, but when we respond, we should with restraint. 

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom1
link 11/20/16 12:59:01PM @sister-mary-agnes-ample-bottom2:

I think that we have to rethink that one nuke deserves another.

Raise your hand if you had to read On The Beach in college.  *raises hand*  Little book.  Powerful punch. 

link 11/20/16 01:19:17PM @kavika:

I didn't go to college, but I've waving my hand fast and furious...

Excellent book with a big message.

link 11/20/16 07:47:33PM @dowser:

I never read it in college, but I read it while I was in high school because I had my own copy.  I watched the movie with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner on the Afternoon Movie with Grandma while we played canasta in front of the gas grate...  WONDERFUL book, fabulous author, and stunning premise...  I've read about all of Nevil Shute's books...

Another one that is stunning is Down to a Sunless Sea-- by David Graham, sort of science fiction kind of book.  Also utterly shocking...

Buzz of the Orient
link 11/20/16 08:41:53PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Never read the book but I saw the movie more than once and have referred to it a number of times on this site. I once did an article on nuclear war movies on Classic Cinema group and included it there as well.  Of course if nuclear weapons are going to be used in that hemisphere Australia won't be the last place to suffer from the fallout as in the movie/book.

Hal A. Lujah
link 11/20/16 01:40:37PM @hal-a-lujah:

I vote for the nobody nukes anybody ever option.  peace

link 11/20/16 01:43:55PM @kavika:

I agree Hal, but the genie is out of the bottle now.

Hal A. Lujah
link 11/20/16 01:52:50PM @hal-a-lujah:

My feeling is that if one goes off, no matter where in the world, enough more will follow to make the planet uninhabitable.  It's suicide for all of us, no matter who pulls the first trigger.

link 11/20/16 01:56:57PM @kavika:

A very possible scenario Hal.

link 11/20/16 08:53:45PM @cerenkov:

It'll balance global warming and everything will be perfect again. 

link 11/20/16 09:26:07PM @kavika:

I doubt after a nuclear exchange, or multi exchanges that globing warming will be a problem.

Between the blast and temperature increase, thermal radiation, nuclear radiation and radioactive fallout followed by a nuclear winter none of us will be around to see if your statement is correct, Cerenkov.

link 11/20/16 09:48:43PM @kavika:

should be global not globing. I'm not able to make corrections on my posts.

link 11/20/16 10:50:40PM @cerenkov:

It would take a very large exchange to trigger nuclear winter. At that point, climate would not be the major danger.

link 11/20/16 10:24:30PM @enoch:

Dear Friend Kavika and Constructive Contributors: This is indeed an important relevant, subtle and complex series of topics.

There are many more questions than answers.

One part of this puzzle not yet brought into the discussion is the relationship between China and Russia, Putin and Trump.

This will further muddy the waters when we try to find common ground for a unified policy with China to further both our mutual interests with North Korea and the problems that nation poses for Asia and the world.

A note of praise for those here who read a well thought out, deeply researched topic by our distinguished author Kavika..

Good on you all. This is the kind of discussion thread that should be the rule, not the exception in our blogging community here.

It is the level of discourse, not which position taken that will make or break us as a site now and in future. 

Let's see more of this.  

Peace, Blessings and Working Together.


link 11/20/16 10:33:34PM @kavika:

Thanks niijii,

It's interesting to note that during the Korean War the U.S. was quite sure that the Russians and the Chinese acted in concert. That proved to be false. Because both are communist countries does not make them one and the same when it comes to the national policy of each country.

link 11/21/16 11:16:27AM @dowser:

Amen, dear Enoch!

I once read a really good book, General Dean's Story-- it was a Reader's Digest condensed book from the 1950s...  An inside look at what it was like to be a captive of North Korea during the war.  They are very able to take nothing, and make something out of it that is useful.  When General Dean became ill, his medicine bottles had Chinese writing on them.  Interesting thought.

I did think that Russian provided them with planes...  Maybe the N Koreans purchased them with Chinese money, or something.  I don't honestly know.

Buzz of the Orient
link 11/20/16 08:50:16PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

If you believe in restraint, Perrie, then carpet bombing killing millions of civilians who probably in their hearts wish for a better leader than Kim and a better life will be the innocent victims whose only sin was being stuck in that country. Many of them already try to escape to China over the Yalu River - some who are not returned succeed. More selective bombing, such as industries, especially war industries, their warships, airfields, nuclear facilities, military facilities, government buildings, etc would be proper targets. Put them back into the middle ages.

link 11/20/16 10:36:45PM @kavika:

Good point Buzz, but if we attack the places you pointed out, ten's of thousands of civilians will die. there is no real humane way to deal with it. Although some will cause less civilian casualties then others.

link 11/20/16 12:45:37PM @kavika:

If NK does in fact hit the US with a nuclear weapon the response should be somewhat measured. Conventional weapons, IMO would be the best bet.

If NK hits South Korea or Japan with a nuke, that presents a whole different scenario for us.

In any form it will be a very alarming situation with the possibility of all out war in the region.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
link 11/20/16 12:53:59PM @perrie-halpern:

I have to agree. It is a nightmare scenario. 

link 11/20/16 01:27:53PM @johnrussell:







link 11/20/16 12:48:38PM @johnrussell:





link 11/20/16 01:24:56PM @kavika:

All I see are a group of unrelated photos.

If the comment made by the MP is to be believed, that would make the US, India, Pakistan, France, China et al, targets.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
link 11/20/16 01:35:22PM @perrie-halpern:

That is true Kavika. What we need from those nations is a definitive way of dealing with such an event. 

link 11/20/16 01:45:18PM @kavika:

That would be great, and hopefully it will happen.

Buzz of the Orient
link 11/20/16 09:50:23PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Want to know what happens in a nuclear war?  You could watch "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and any documentary about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, or for fictional possibilities, these movies:

link 11/20/16 10:55:46PM @kavika:

Thanks for the link Buzz.

There are many photos of aftermath of the two nuclear blasts in Japan, nothing you really want to see come to fruition again.


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