Things getting hairier in North Korea

There is a possibility that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un may have reached the end of his free ride for developing a nuclear weapon.

Reports from top Pentagon officials appear to indicate that the U.S. may strike North Korea with conventional weapons if Kim even just tests another nuclear bomb.

The anniversary of the birth of North Korea's found Kim Il-sung is this weekend – the most important holiday for Kim's regime.  The government has hinted at a "big event," which many Western analysts believe could be another test of the North's nuclear weapons program.

If so, and if the reports out of Washington are true, we may be at war on the Korean peninsula before the weekend is out.

NBC News:

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

"The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue," Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would "hit the U.S. first" with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes.

On Thursday, North Korea warned of a "merciless retaliatory strike" should the U.S. take any action.

Oh, by the way...Vice President Pence will be in South Korea today.

How much are Kim's threats bluster, and how much are they serious?  I don't think anyone can say for sure.  There is a school of thought that Kim will use his nukes if he feels that the U.S. is about to overthrow the regime.  Since he can't hit the U.S., he would attack South Korea and perhaps even Japan.

China is no doubt burning up the wires today, pleading with Kim not to test a nuclear weapon.  But we should not have any illusions about Chinese support for North Korea.  If we attack, China will be forced to respond.

It would have been much easier and safer if Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Barack Obama had taken out the North Korean nuclear program while it was still in its infancy and vulnerable.  But none of those presidents took action while there was still time to prevent the enormously destabilizing situation of a nuclear-armed North Korea with the missile capability to hit U.S. allies in the region.

It's true that North Korea is not an existential threat to the U.S. at this time.  But do we wait until it is before striking?  Or do we attempt to derail Kim's mad ambition to launch?

Time may have run out on the North Korean leader – as has his freedom of action. 

There is a possibility that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un may have reached the end of his free ride for developing a nuclear weapon.

Reports from top Pentagon officials appear to indicate that the U.S. may strike North Korea with conventional weapons if Kim even just tests another nuclear bomb.

The anniversary of the birth of North Korea's found Kim Il-sung is this weekend – the most important holiday for Kim's regime.  The government has hinted at a "big event," which many Western analysts believe could be another test of the North's nuclear weapons program.

If so, and if the reports out of Washington are true, we may be at war on the Korean peninsula before the weekend is out.

NBC News:

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

"The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue," Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would "hit the U.S. first" with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes.

On Thursday, North Korea warned of a "merciless retaliatory strike" should the U.S. take any action.

Oh, by the way...Vice President Pence will be in South Korea today.

How much are Kim's threats bluster, and how much are they serious?  I don't think anyone can say for sure.  There is a school of thought that Kim will use his nukes if he feels that the U.S. is about to overthrow the regime.  Since he can't hit the U.S., he would attack South Korea and perhaps even Japan.

China is no doubt burning up the wires today, pleading with Kim not to test a nuclear weapon.  But we should not have any illusions about Chinese support for North Korea.  If we attack, China will be forced to respond.

It would have been much easier and safer if Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Barack Obama had taken out the North Korean nuclear program while it was still in its infancy and vulnerable.  But none of those presidents took action while there was still time to prevent the enormously destabilizing situation of a nuclear-armed North Korea with the missile capability to hit U.S. allies in the region.

It's true that North Korea is not an existential threat to the U.S. at this time.  But do we wait until it is before striking?  Or do we attempt to derail Kim's mad ambition to launch?

Time may have run out on the North Korean leader – as has his freedom of action. 

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