Tuesday, February 24, 2004

just kill 'em all?

"This guy makes you look like a North Korean sympathizer," writes Smallholder in an email. Here's the link to what he's talking about. You decide: is this writer a bit over the top?

Some quotables:

During all these years, one thing stands out clearly: The North Koreans never backed down, never yielded to pressure, never blinked. While the North Koreans had a very large standing army, the U.S. and S. Korean forces had overwhelmingly superior technology backed by tactical nuclear weapons that had the undeniable ability to even out North Korea's numerical battlefield superiority. Despite this, North Korea remained belligerent and bellicose.

We now know what was going on behind the scenes. While the United States was wringing its hands, wondering what to do every time the North Koreans pushed or prodded, North Korea was building up its stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and working hard on its nuclear weapons program.

Shortly after President Clinton took office, North Korea threatened to pull out of the non-proliferation treaty, interrupting international inspections of nuclear facilities. This came as a big surprise to the Clinton administration, which had been operating on the presumption that the North Koreans were abiding by this treaty, and were not pursuing nuclear weapons.


North Korea received active and enthusiastic help and support from Pakistan in exchange for several of its potent missiles. Pakistan, of course, had already invented the wheel, and so could point the North Koreans in the right direction with their own bomb development. Add sufficient smuggled Soviet-era plutonium for two or three bombs, and you have a nuclear-armed North Korea with the ability to strike at least two or three targets almost anywhere.

On Oct. 16, 2002, that's exactly what the Bush administration revealed. The North Koreans have had an ongoing nuclear development program all along, and have - for certain - at least two to four bombs in their arsenal, with the capability of creating another dozen or so in the next few weeks, and up to 30 per year thereafter.

Now you know why President Bush is so eager to install an anti-missile missile system in Alaska as soon as possible - even yesterday - if we could do it.

The U.S. reaction to this revelation has been quiet, but firm. True to its history, North Korea has pushed right back. On Christmas Eve, North Korea warned of an "uncontrollable catastrophe" unless the United States agrees to negotiate new terms in a revised agreement on its nuclear energy and weapons programs.

On its face, such a threat is frightening, since North Korea now has the teeth to back up its boasts. Nevertheless, I am reluctant to believe that North Korea really can successfully launch and hit any U.S. targets with its nuclear-armed missiles. In fact, even launching them against South Korea or Japan carries a big risk, because North Korea has no depth to its nuclear arsenal. American retaliation would be swift and sure, with only one reasonable outcome.

So what is the actual threat?

I undertook an investigation over Christmas to discover what North Korea had available in its chemical and biological weapons arsenal.

According to information I gleaned from many sources across the Internet, North Korea currently has approximately 5,000 tons of chemical agents specifically manufactured for weapons use. The chemicals fall into two categories: blistering agents (mostly a mix of Lewisite and Mustard gas) and the nerve agents Sarin and VX. Because of their persistence, the blistering agents and VX can be used to deny further use of an area to the opposition, and they all can be used to incapacitate a troop concentration or destroy the population of a city.

North Korea has limited its biological weapons stockpile primarily to Anthrax and Smallpox, although it is known to have investigated Botulinum Toxin, Cholera, Hemorrhagic Fever, Plague, Typhoid, Typhus and Yellow Fever, and has accused the U.S. of employing each of these against North Korea at one or more times during the Korean Conflict.

North Korean Anthrax is the same weaponized strain developed by the Soviets during the Cold War.

Until recently, the world believed that the only stocks of Smallpox virus were safely held at secure locations in the U.S. and the old Soviet Union. On Nov. 4, 2002, however, the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control division of the CIA announced that four countries - France, Iraq, North Korea, and Russia - probably possess undeclared samples of smallpox.

Not only does North Korea have a significant stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, but South Korean authorities identified six chemical weapons storage areas, three chemical production facilities, and eight chemical research centers scattered across the northern half of the peninsula.

In light of this developing information, it seems much more likely that North Korea could launch an all-out biological and chemical offensive against the United States, Japan and South Korea, while holding its nukes in reserve for a follow-on strike, while we scramble to protect ourselves and recover from the initial attack.

I can see only one way to prevent this scenario from taking place. Unless we pre-emptively destroy North Korea's ability to strike first with biologics and chemicals, and unless we simultaneously take out its nuclear capability and its overwhelming troop strength, we will likely be in for a long, drawn-out conflict with heavy casualties on our side.

The only way we can accomplish these simultaneous goals is to strike all known North Korean biological, chemical and nuclear centers with air-burst nukes of sufficient capacity to wipe them out, and simultaneously to hit all their known troop concentrations with tactical neutron devices, which are specifically designed to kill living things without destroying the surrounding infrastructure or leaving any residual radiological contamination.



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