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Expert discovers North Korea is now one step away from striking the USA. Here are the options on President Trump's table

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President Trump has few options, and none of them are very good.

With reports that North Korea is just a single step away from developing a nuclear weapon that can strike the continental United States, time is running out for President Trump to choose a course of action. What options does he have left?

Kim Jong Un views a launch from a distance.

Kim Jong Un views a launch from a distance.

Highlights

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -  The world has tried every peaceful means of convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons but to no avail. Now, according to one expert, the North is just a single step away from finalizing a weapon that can strike the continental United States.

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on the North Korean military, has told "The Sun," a news publication out of the UK, that the final step is to develop a warhead capable of surviving the shock of atmospheric reentry.


A nuclear warhead is remarkably delicate, and all of its components must work flawlessly to cause a nuclear explosion. Those components are subjected to intense heat, pressure, and vibration on reentry. Warheads can be engineered to survive these forces. The question is, how close is North Korea to this final milestone? Lewis thinks they are close.

According to Lewis, the North has already developed a warhead that can survive reentry for their Hwasong-12 missile. The missile has a shorter range, so the reentry time is shorter, but it is fairly simple to improve the design to survive a longer experience.

North Korea is embarked on a crash program to develop this capability, as has been testing rockets and other components on a weekly basis.

While several missiles have failed, failure can also teach valuable lessons, so every launch brings North Korea closer to their goal.

At this time, North Korea could be just weeks to months away from possessing the ability to strike the United States. If President Trump wants to prevent this development, he will need to act fast. What are his options?

1.    Intense diplomatic pressure. The first option is the favorite one, and the least effective, it seems. North Korea has been subjected to pressure to abandon their nuclear weapons program for years. The North has been offered incentives, as well as punishments. Their closest ally, China, has increased pressure, halting North Korean coal imports. This still hasn't worked, leaving many to wonder if China can't control their tiny neighbor. It's reasonable to conclude that if diplomatic pressure were going to work, it would have worked before now.

2.    The military option. North Korea has a large army, but it is technologically dated. They are weakest in the air, which means they are vulnerable from the sky. Two or three aircraft carriers stationed in the Sea of Japan would probably be sufficient to establish air dominance over North Korea within hours to a day, at most. The risk of U.S. casualties would be small. Once in control of the skies, their army, which numbers in the millions if reserves are included, would be vulnerable. Interdiction strikes would limit supplies and reinforcements.

However, the North's Army could attack South Korea to punish the United States. The South's capitol, Seoul is within range of North Korean artillery. Tens of thousands of people could be killed in the strikes before they could move to safety.

There is no chance the North could win a war against the U.S. and South Korea, but they could do tremendous damage in a short span of time. South Korea does not want this to happen and is opposed to any kind of military option.

3.    Covert Operations. The United States has the world's best special forces. Training, equipment, and experience mean American forces can do just about anything. Such forces could be sent to the North to kill or capture North Korea's leaders, and effectively "decapitate" the regime. If done as part of a coup, this could prevent war and tremendous loss of life. However, there is no guarantee this would work. Kim Jong Un could be rendered safe within minutes, and any mistake or misfortune at all could end the operation. The angered North could retaliate in a number of ways.

4.    DĂ©tente. DĂ©tente is derived from French and in popular usage means a state of equilibrium or even a slow process of gradual improvement over time. The word was often used to describe the slow easing of strained relations between the USA and USSR during the late Cold War.

The United States may be forced to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea. In response, the U.S. will maintain a ballistic missile presence within striking distance of the North. The North will be warned that any launch will result in immediate nuclear annihilation.

Such an approach kept the Soviet Union at bay for decades. Perhaps it will work with the North.

There are no good options left for the United States. The best outcome might be a coup or direct intervention by China. Such moves might not involve the U.S. or jeopardize South Korea. However, the price of failure in either option would be extreme.

The time to stop North Korea has come to an end. It shows that diplomatic and economic sanctions are not always effective tools for stopping a regime intent upon developing weapons of mass destruction. Sometimes, force is the only option to many an enemy stop. However, force in inherently immoral, and often costs innocent lives. Yet it can be unavoidable, leaving only the questions of when and how much. It should be noted that most wars begin by surprise.

He who does not strike first will be the first struck. - Roman Proverb

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