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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why Japan will go nuclear

Peter Grant explains the logic. First, he cites George Friedman on why the Trump administration has been unable to do anything about North Korea despite its efforts to bring in China on the matter:
The US turned to China to negotiate a solution. The Chinese failed. In my view, the Chinese would not be terribly upset to see the US dragged into a war that would weaken Washington if it lost, and would cause massive casualties on all sides if it won. Leaving that question aside, the North Koreans felt they had to have nuclear weapons to deter American steps to destabilize Pyongyang. But the risk of an American attack, however difficult, had to have made them very nervous, even if they were going to go for broke in developing a nuclear capability.

But they didn’t seem very nervous. They seemed to be acting as if they had no fear of a war breaking out. It wasn’t just the many photos of Kim Jong Un smiling that gave this impression. It was that the North Koreans moved forward with their program regardless of American and possible Chinese pressure.

A couple of weeks ago, the reason for their confidence became evident. First, US President Donald Trump tweeted a message to the South Koreans accusing them of appeasement. In response, the South Koreans released a statement saying South Korea’s top interest was to ensure that it would never again experience the devastation it endured during the Korean War. From South Korea’s perspective, artillery fire exchanges that might hit Seoul had to be avoided. Given the choice between a major war to end the North’s nuclear program and accepting a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, South Korea would choose the latter.

With that policy made public, and Trump’s criticism of it on the table, the entire game changed its form. The situation had been viewed as a two-player game, with North Korea rushing to build a deterrent, and the US looking for the right moment to attack. But it was actually a three-player game, in which the major dispute was between South Korea and the United States.
It doesn't matter if China is on board if South Korea is not. Hence Peter's conclusion:
This explains, to my mind, why the US response to North Korea's undoubtedly aggressive moves has been so muted.  There is no doubt that the USA could turn the whole of North Korea into a radioactive desert - but that would poison parts of China and most of South Korea with fallout, which neither country will accept.  Short of such an all-out nuclear attack, any US military intervention in North Korea must inevitably involve South Korea.  If South Korea is not willing to permit its territory, or its airspace, or its waters, to be used for that purpose, the USA is effectively stymied.

I see only one way to break the logjam, and force the issue.  That would be for the USA to announce that, in view of North Korea's aggressive actions and stated intentions to become a nuclear power, it is willing to sell nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.  Note that I said "sell" - in other words, not station US nuclear weapons in those countries under US control, but give each country its own nuclear warheads and delivery systems, under its own sovereign control.  China would instantly have kittens - a nuclear-armed Japan must be close to its worst nightmare, and a nuclear South Korea wouldn't be far behind that.  If anything could force China to rein in the North Korean regime, that might do it.
And the reality is that now it is clear North Korea cannot be reined in by the USA, Japan is going to need its own nuclear deterrent, which it probably required anyhow given the growth of China's global power. SJWs and Republicans may believe Asians are all a single political bloc, but anyone familiar with Asian history knows otherwise.

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110 Comments:

Blogger Serge_Tomiko September 21, 2017 10:38 AM  

I think most people are aware that Japan remains under military occupation and is effectively a client state of the United States.

Blogger James Dixon September 21, 2017 10:39 AM  

Japan and Taiwan both will probably go nuclear eventually.

Blogger #7139 September 21, 2017 10:40 AM  

China would instantly have kittens

The thought of China throwing a major fit over a nuclear armed Japan is grimly amusing. It sounds like it will be up to the Japanese if they want to make the next move.

Blogger Nate September 21, 2017 10:40 AM  

selling nukes to Taiwan would be the biggest Eff You since the election.

Anonymous VFM #6306 September 21, 2017 10:40 AM  

Grant nailed it, I think. South Korea would be dishonored to have their Northern half destroyed. Fat Man and Little Boy 2.0 for Japan it is.

Blogger Johnny September 21, 2017 10:45 AM  

Countries that rule by force internally seem always to project. They anticipate the rest of the world is like that, and thus see any degree if disarmament as only weakness. Nothing to be gained. Additionally, if I were Japan I would want nuclear arms because I would not assume that a nuclear attack from North Korea would automatically produce a US response. Governments act in bad faith all the time. Finally, it would be in the US interest for Japan to be nuclear armed in that it would make it more likely that war, should it break out, would be between Japan and North Korea, with at least a reasonable chance that we would be spared a nuclear exchange.

Putting this stuff together, we should want Japan to be armed with nuclear tipped missles and the Japanese should want to be armed. While the Japanese have a history of being brutal, they have no history of being irratic, and there is no great return in being the world's policeman, our current role.

So let them develop the bomb, buy it from us, whatever. Go to it Japan.

Blogger Ingot9455 September 21, 2017 10:45 AM  

I think it was George Schultz who, when asked how long it would take for Japan to attain nuclear weapons, said, "Oh, they could pull an all-nighter."

Anonymous Looking Glass September 21, 2017 10:47 AM  

Kinetic Energy Weapons & EMP Munitions.

Military has an entirely new slate of "toys" that are more than useful against NK, along with whatever they've got cooked up in the Electronic Warfare side of things. I think because Obama was a micromanager of epic (disastrous) proportions, that some chunk of the R&D sections of the Military just outright blacked out the information going up the chain.

I also feel that Sundance at CTH is correct that at some point in the not too distant past, NK became a full puppet for China. Possibly around 2013 or 2014 during one of their bad growing seasons. It drastically changes the strategic calculations. NK is used as leverage by China directly. Japan & India sign a deal over High-speed Rail; NK shoots a missile over Japan the next day. Rise & repeat.

As for Nukes in SK & Japan. Japan already has designs and could probably go nuclear in under 3 months. (Realistically, a long weekend.) SK would take a little longer and they don't have the military infrastructure to actually use them, but I doubt either country would "buy" nukes. They'd just make them on their own.

Blogger Karl September 21, 2017 10:48 AM  

Good suggestion. SK and Japan deserve to have every means available for their defense. I doubt it would take long if they chose to build their own bombs.

NK can't be reined in by the US because this is what nuclear blackmail looks like.

It is the US' fault this has gone this far, and the options now are messy.

If NK isn't crushed soon, Iran and maybe Pakistan will join the blackmail club. If they all join, Russia is next. That is where this is going, so messy now is better than messy later.

Blogger S1AL September 21, 2017 10:49 AM  

Makes sense. The other option is unveiling that we have the "rods from god" system already in place.

I don't think North Korea is worth that. Yet.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 10:50 AM  

I remember reading somewhere that if Japan wanted to develop nuclear weapons it could do so in a matter of months. That may not be an exaggeration, they may already have all the components, they just haven't put them together and announced their new status.

Anonymous old man in a villa September 21, 2017 10:50 AM  

Sell Nukes to Japan.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Blogger modsquad September 21, 2017 11:04 AM  

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/08/04/stunning-leverage-created-by-president-trump-over-little-dragon-draft-u-n-security-council-resolution-targets-n-korea-economy/

Blogger Johnny September 21, 2017 11:07 AM  

Something we have slipped into, apparently in an absence of thought, is war by proxy. It is an issue with North Korea. If China is the sponsor or the willing accomplice, should an attack from North Korea be treated as an attack by China? Perhaps we should consider it internally and ask China what they think about it. You know, how about it China, do you want to be held responsible for the actions of your client state?

Anonymous Jeff September 21, 2017 11:09 AM  

Pretty sure Japan could build their own nukes if given the green light.

Blogger Matamoros September 21, 2017 11:11 AM  

Once Japan has nukes we are into Friedman's scenario whereby Japan becomes the regional power, conquers all or parts of China, allies with Turkey against the U.S., etc.

Anonymous fop September 21, 2017 11:11 AM  

The Japs are too weird to be trusted with nukes. They'll be painting kitten faces on them and calling them cute names like "Mushroom Sky Lemondrop".

Anonymous Roundtine September 21, 2017 11:12 AM  

If the "insane" Kim can have nukes on China's border, certainly the civilized Japanese can have nuclear weapons.

I'm a bit surprised China didn't oppose DPRK nukes harder because if you assume reunification at some future date, they are tacitly accepting a nuclear armed Korea. My read is that they no longer have the ability to control Kim.

Anonymous X21 September 21, 2017 11:15 AM  

I don't see the US withdrawing from the NPT, so this couldn't be done in the open.

Anonymous Randomatos September 21, 2017 11:18 AM  

Japan regaining martial coherence would make China very unhappy. I say go for it!

Blogger Johnny September 21, 2017 11:19 AM  

fop wrote:The Japs are too weird to be trusted with nukes. They'll be painting kitten faces on them and calling them cute names like "Mushroom Sky Lemondrop".

If the Chinese got into writing slogans on their nukes, perhaps it would be "Tranquility Restoration Device."

Blogger Mountain Man September 21, 2017 11:20 AM  

"And the reality is that now it is clear North Korea cannot be reined in by the USA,"

No the reality is that the US cannot be reined in by NK. Our imperialism knows no bounds. There isn't one country, in the world where we dont feel is important enough for us to meddle in. Once there we never leave. We got ourselves embroiled - deeply- in the Korea(s) and the war has never ended.
Kim is an evil turd who is surrounded by sycophants but the man isn't stupid. He realized that without nukes he would have gone the way of Quadafi and Hussein. Its the only thing thats saved him from an imminent invasion. China likes him because he acts as a buffer between them and the S. Korea ( the USA's 58th state)
Trump comes across as an ignorant buffoon when it comes to this issue. Sending out tweets about attacking NK. So glaringly stupid - Mattis had to intervene. The bluster might have worked on real estate deals but honestly the " you'll hear from my lawyer Saul" shtick just wont cut with a pygmy asian with nukes.
The saber rattling on the part of NK is so that the US backs off and leaves them alone.

Anonymous FidelNaidoo September 21, 2017 11:22 AM  

Insane as it sounds, I reckon the best way out of this situation ( or just a way to tone it down ), is for GE Trump to invite Jung un on a state visit to the White House. I'm sure he wants recognition as a leader, and that could blow the wind out of his sails, and possibly save many lives.

Anonymous Jeff September 21, 2017 11:30 AM  

I'm sure he wants recognition as a leader

Indeed, he's probably feeling a little ronery.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab September 21, 2017 11:32 AM  

Once China has a truly nuclear north Korea they know reunification will happen incrementally to their favor. Hong Kong is Chinese, Taiwan will be Chinese, Korea will reunify and if it takes fifty or a hundred years so be it.

Blogger Ken Prescott September 21, 2017 11:39 AM  

Another possibility: Japan, South Korea, and Australia may go nuclear.

As in submarines.

That would cause China to flip out every bit as much as they would over nuclear weapons, because those countries would have greatly increased their radius of influence without the OMG factor of nuclear weapons.

Anonymous Looking Glass September 21, 2017 11:42 AM  

@fop

Sadly, you don't know the Japanese well enough.

What you're missing is that they would anthropomorphism the bombs. They'd be Uri-chan & Plutu-chan. They'd then sell them as a pair, pay some teen aged idols to voice them and do shows in Tokyo. Their friend would be Mii-chan and her rocket that they ride around on.

There would be an entire campaign of goods and it'd be weeabo crack. They'd be instantly adopted by /pol/ and all anime imageboards. They'd be the clear commanders of the #RightWingLoliDeathSquads and will show up in any Twitter political discussion that mentions anything about Japan. You will see cosplay at every major convention and it will go viral all of the time. (Just hope guys don't take to doing the cosplay for them.)

And all of this will be funded by committees of Japanese businessmen in suits that bow to each other while they run a sophisticated propaganda & normalization campaign across the globe for Japanese nuclear weapons.

My friend, one does not simply call Japan "too weird". Japan makes "weird" an art form and they are the masters.

Anonymous Roundtine September 21, 2017 11:42 AM  

Anti-Japanese sentiment in China is off the charts bad. If Japan got nukes, the Japanese embassy might get stormed, and the Chinese military might even be overrun trying to stop it. T hat's the type of mob fury I could imagine. It would probably spill onto the West too. Expect burned down McDonald's and KFCs. Last time they rioted, Chinese burned down Japanese auto dealerships (owned by Chinese) and beat a Chinese man driving a Japanese car into a coma because he "looked Japanese." That was in 2011 and the crime then was changes made to a Japanese history book.

Anonymous Iron Spartan September 21, 2017 11:47 AM  

Unit 731 and the rape of Nanking play a larger role in the mind of most Chinese than the Warsaw ghetto and Doctor Mangala does to the Europeans of today. Imperial Japan is collective nightmare in a way that the Nazi Germany never could be.

I have had Chinese immigrants, who's grandparents survived the occupation, tell me that "Just because Japan surrendered was no reason to stop nuking them."

It will be interesting to see what China would do to prevent Imperial Japan from rising again.

Blogger pyrrhus September 21, 2017 11:49 AM  

Japan has very capable nuclear physicists, they will have thermonuclear weapons fairly quickly if they want them...I would not be surprised if Japan already has a secret nuclear program to prepare for this necessity.

Blogger pyrrhus September 21, 2017 11:52 AM  

No way China can do anything about Japanese nukes, but I think they would have serious problems with South Korean nukes, at least if they were above 1 megaton...

Anonymous Anchorman September 21, 2017 11:53 AM  

It is the US' fault this has gone this far, and the options now are messy.

What? How could the US have stopped this, short of open war against Pakistan in the early 1990s - which, in itself, would have caused major international backlash/war?

Why would the Japanese buy or make their own nukes?

They could make them. They could buy them. Right now, they have the benefit of deterrence and no reason to suspect the US would pull support for Japan.

Even if that happened, they could find eager salesmen in Russia - and maybe for less.

Blogger Cail Corishev September 21, 2017 11:53 AM  

I always figured the US wouldn't attack without a joint operation with China, or at least China's blessing. That would be like China unilaterally attacking Panama or something. And if South Korea doesn't want us doing anything either, I'd figure we're nearly off the hook. Let Japan defend herself and get the heck out while the getting's good.

Anonymous Jeff September 21, 2017 11:54 AM  

Japan has very capable nuclear physicists, they will have thermonuclear weapons fairly quickly if they want them...I would not be surprised if Japan already has a secret nuclear program to prepare for this necessity.

Hopefully it is located away from the coastlines this time.

Anonymous Jack Amok September 21, 2017 11:54 AM  

I don't see the US withdrawing from the NPT, so this couldn't be done in the open.

Why wouldn't Trump pull out of a failed treaty? The NPT is not keeping our enemies from going nuclear, all it's doing is stopping our allies.

If we want a real NPT again, the way to get it is to chuck the current one, arm Japan and Australia, then say "well, would anyone like to negotiate a treaty they'll stick to this time?"

Anonymous Trimegistus September 21, 2017 11:55 AM  

Trouble is, going nuclear is politically radioactive in Japan. There's a huge chunk of their electorate who literally would prefer Chinese hegemony to having Japanese nukes. And remember, Japan's in a demographic death spiral; for them submission and a quiet decline into national extinction are the path they've chosen. Having nukes would disrupt that.

Anonymous BBGKB September 21, 2017 11:57 AM  

Pull all US troops out of S Korea now. No reason that they should be the only ones willing to die to protect S Korea. S. Korea only pays for the costs of one platoon of fighting men to be there.

Anonymous Anchorman September 21, 2017 11:58 AM  

China likes him

China tolerates him. His policies cause constant border problems, he's too erratic to predict (which influences China's bankers), and he's Korean. Three reasons they'd love to replace him. However, he is also a pain in the West's ass, so he's a useful ass.

Anonymous Anchorman September 21, 2017 12:00 PM  

Why wouldn't Trump pull out of a failed treaty? The NPT is not keeping our enemies from going nuclear, all it's doing is stopping our allies.

Because it allows the West to economically sanction other nations without reprisal. Abandoning it takes away the greatest leverage the West has - prosperity.

You can have nukes or you can have prosperity. You can't have both (unless you're part of the West's super pals club).

Blogger DeploraBard September 21, 2017 12:01 PM  

And if we sell to SK and Japan, Russia and China sell to?

Blogger VFM #7634 September 21, 2017 12:03 PM  

The Japs are too weird to be trusted with nukes. They'll be painting kitten faces on them and calling them cute names like "Mushroom Sky Lemondrop".

@fop
I could see that. When the U.S. gave up naming typhoons and kicked it over to the East Asians, the Japs contributed names like "Koppu" (cup) and "Kompasu" (compass).

They probably have a version of Herro Kitty for North Korea in storage right now.

Anonymous Anonymous September 21, 2017 12:04 PM  

Be honest VD, you're just hoping for a nuke with Babymetal theme painted on it.

Blogger Nate September 21, 2017 12:09 PM  

"Hopefully it is located away from the coastlines this time."

Its FUCKING JAPAN! ITS A GOD DAMN ISLAND. ITS ALL COASTLINES.

Anonymous Rusty Fife September 21, 2017 12:13 PM  

Nate wrote:"Hopefully it is located away from the coastlines this time."

Its FUCKING JAPAN! ITS A GOD DAMN ISLAND. ITS ALL COASTLINES.


...or volcanos...worse, volcano induced tsunami coastlines; which is why we use the Japanese word for long waves.

Anonymous Gen. Kong September 21, 2017 12:14 PM  

That would be a very good move to neutralize and contain Beijing's snarling junkyard shit-zu. I wonder if they'll actually do it. The Japanese and Koreans would both be wise to acquire nukes or build their own assuming they aren't actually ruled from Sodom-on-Potomac.

Despite all the bluster and antics, Kim-Jong Crazy is actually somewhat less insane than Neo-con warmongers who sit in the halls of Fake Banana Empire's Senate of Incitatii - or hand its nominal Imperator censored news reports.

Anonymous Sensei September 21, 2017 12:14 PM  

Japan and Taiwan both will probably go nuclear eventually.

...selling nukes to Taiwan would be the biggest Eff You since the election.

Taiwan lacks the ability, and more importantly the will. They can't even finish a badly needed new nuclear power plant due to massive protests. I'm fairly certain they'd refuse nukes if the US offered, and if China found out, which they would (I don't think anything happens in Taiwan they don't have ways of finding out) it would be like the Cuban missile crisis in reverse, only worse.

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 12:18 PM  

8. Looking Glass September 21, 2017 10:47 AM -

Kinetic Energy Weapons & EMP Munitions.

Only in America would Americans believe that America is technologically militarily superior to any other country in the the world.

Others are engaging even in an eco- type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves.

So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important.
- DefSec Cohen

And BTW, Russia has been doing a lot longer that USA Bigly.

Anonymous Baseball Savant September 21, 2017 12:19 PM  

I spent a few months in Turkey doing missionary work and my roommate while there was from South Korea. I'd tease him all the time that all Asians look alike (He of course thought all white people look the same) and I would call him a Chinaman or a Jap all the time and he knew I was kidding but was always quick to point out that he had no love for the Chinese or Japanese. He said they were COMPLETELY different and couldn't stand them. He would go as far to say that he hated them, but you got that impression. I almost got the impression he viewed both to be somewhat sub-human.

Anonymous Gen. Kong September 21, 2017 12:20 PM  

DeploraBard wrote:
And if we sell to SK and Japan, Russia and China sell to?

I have no idea.... What a meanie you are, scaring Benji like that! He's the very littlest of of the little chickenhawks.

Blogger buzzardist September 21, 2017 12:20 PM  

Honestly, it would not surprise me if Japan is already secretly a nuclear power. It has all the means necessary to produce a nuclear bomb, as well as the technology for an effective delivery system. Politically, announcing as a nuclear power would cause fits, both domestically and with China and the Koreas. South Korea would probably go nuclear just to keep pace with Japan (which, unsurprisingly if you understand Asian history, it won't do in response to a nuclear North Korea). So Japan isn't likely to say anything if it has developed nuclear weapons.

Whether Japan could keep something like this secret for very long is questionable given the strong opposition to nukes in Japan. One wrong person gets a whiff of what's going on, and it would blow up in the Japanese media. That's the best argument I see for Japan not already having nukes. But, if I were Japan, I'd have laid plans as soon as North Korea started working on nukes. I'd have put those plans into action as soon as North Korea tested a nuke. I'd have accelerated any plans into overdrive as soon as Obama started signalling that he would capitulate to China in any dispute and wasn't genuinely interested in defending Japan any longer. If Japan doesn't have a nuclear weapons program, Abe is a fool.

Anonymous JI September 21, 2017 12:25 PM  

It will be interesting to see if Japan decides the US is an unreliable partner and creates its own nuclear weapons, which will be better, cheaper, more reliable, and with Hello Kitty stickers all over them.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera September 21, 2017 12:28 PM  

Well if Japan gets nukes that's really gonna suck.

Anonymous Gen. Kong September 21, 2017 12:29 PM  

X21 wrote:
I don't see the US withdrawing from the NPT, so this couldn't be done in the open.

That might be true, but Kwa-Bananaland's bestest friend evah in the whole wide universe never signed that pesky treaty, and never got around to ratifying those having to do with chemical and biological weapons - so they can sell anything to whomever they like.

Blogger James Dixon September 21, 2017 12:39 PM  

> Well if Japan gets nukes that's really gonna suck.

The only thing stopping them is their reliance on us. North Korea is doing a very good job of demonstrating exactly how reliable we are.

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 12:40 PM  

Something is hokey when NK flies a potential nuclear ballistic missile over Japan, and Japan (USA Bigly) didn't shoot it down.

Blogger Nate September 21, 2017 12:40 PM  

"Well if Japan gets nukes that's really gonna suck."

they already have nukes. Its insane to think the same people that have miniaturized nuclear power plants to neighborhood scale can't weaponize it.

Anonymous Looking Glass September 21, 2017 12:43 PM  

No one responded about nuclear Waifus? Really?


@buzzardist

Having far more than passing interaction with the Japanese, I can take a guess how it actually would go down. I'd take a very hard guess most of the work was done in the late 80s to early 90s. It would have been done out of a joint office with the DoD at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Given the Japanese way, the most likely scenario is that they would still house specific portions of the design work with the US Military. Depending on the details of the NPT that I'd rather not dig through for hours, it's probably something like the warhead cores that are actually banned. However, every other part to one of the W-series warheads would be made and housed in a spot no one would look at.

That only leaves the creation of enriched plutonium. Considering Japan's manufacturing base, they probably already have some dual-use facility one could pick out from one of the heavy industry conglomerates. It'd be fairly trivial for Japan to hide the actual activities, and I'm sure they have all of the designs they need for the centrifuges. And at a much higher quality than all but a few places.

Thus, the most likely scenario is that Japan has a full-cycle nuclear weapons program, just without any working warheads. That would take them maybe a few weeks to get a working warhead if they decided to make them. A fleet within a couple of months. They already have the launch platforms for them, so that's already taken care of.

That's the reason for the "long weekend" or "all-nighter" comments. They probably completed one, minus the core, two decades ago. It might also explain part of why Aum Shinkyo was up to in the Australian desert in 1994.

Blogger tweell September 21, 2017 12:43 PM  

IMHO it would be good for Japan to have their own nukes, it would be a powerful symbol internally as well as a club to use externally.
First, withdraw from the Nonproliferation treaty. Savor the screams and tears. Encourage Japan to go nuclear. Enjoy China's howls of outrage. Then suggest selling nukes to Taiwan. At that point, China should be ready to shut down Lil' Kim.

Japan with nukes is one of China's nightmares. A nuclear-armed Taiwan would be worse - it would destroy their fondest dreams.

Blogger VD September 21, 2017 12:47 PM  

Baseball Savant, email me please. An author has some questions about inside baseball, literally. I figure you're the guy.

Anonymous Lars Porsena September 21, 2017 12:55 PM  

Looking Glass, from what I understand Japan actually has I think the biggest weapons grade plutonium stockpile in the whole world, "for research purposes" and nuclear power, which they produce themselves.

Anonymous Avalanche September 21, 2017 12:57 PM  

Oh! The numbers are back!! @11 if Japan wanted to develop nuclear weapons

Whew -- hard decision for them: WWII and Fukashima... Their internal record with nuclear anything is NOT a happy one!

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 12:58 PM  

Japan with nukes is one of China's nightmares. A nuclear-armed Taiwan would be worse - it would destroy their fondest dreams.

Yeah. Because China howls incessantly at USA Bigly Boomers passing its territorial waters. China knows the game. Sure, they'll diplomatically protest, but they know it's not a game changer.

Anonymous Avalanche September 21, 2017 12:59 PM  

@16 " calling them cute names like "Mushroom Sky Lemondrop"."

You mean like Fat Man and Little Boy?

Anonymous Looking Glass September 21, 2017 1:20 PM  

@59 Lars Porsena

Yea, numbers!

Correct. They still have to refine it from "weapons grade" to "highly enriched", but they can do that with ease. They have the facilities for it. So they get the added benefit of not actually having a working bomb, but everyone knows they could get one very quickly.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 1:40 PM  

He realized that without nukes he would have gone the way of Quadafi and Hussein. Its the only thing thats saved him from an imminent invasion.

NK has a lot of advantages that mitigate against that. Primarily, they can target SK using conventional artillery that is already in place on the NK/SK border. Any attempt at invasion would mean at a minimum several thousand dead SK civilians and a lot of infrastructure damage.

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/how-north-korea-would-retaliate

Blogger Aeoli Pera September 21, 2017 1:46 PM  

Nate wrote:"Well if Japan gets nukes that's really gonna suck."

they already have nukes. Its insane to think the same people that have miniaturized nuclear power plants to neighborhood scale can't weaponize it.


IMPOSSIBRU

Anonymous patrick kelly September 21, 2017 1:58 PM  

I have long thought that japs with nukes were the ultimate trump card to play against the Norks

Anonymous Anchorman September 21, 2017 2:04 PM  

NK has a lot of advantages that mitigate against that. Primarily, they can target SK using conventional artillery that is already in place on the NK/SK border. Any attempt at invasion would mean at a minimum several thousand dead SK civilians and a lot of infrastructure damage.

NK would crumble quicker than Iraq (1991-92 or 2003 version).

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd September 21, 2017 2:08 PM  

James Dixon wrote:Japan and Taiwan both will probably go nuclear eventually.

I am fairly sure that Taiwan has physicists who know how to design nuclear weapons. The only holdup might be getting the fissionable materials to stuff them with.

Not sure whether Japan would be willing to provide them with weapons-grade plutonium, but I wouldn't rule that out. Taiwan was once part of the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, and they aren't so anti-Jap as the Mainlanders.

Blogger DonReynolds September 21, 2017 2:38 PM  

During the VietNam conflict, North VietNam was heavily supported and supplied by the Soviets, yet the anxiety the entire time was the possibility of Chinese intervention....replaying the Korean conflict of 1950-53.

Of course, we all heard stories about Red Chinese "volunteers" being found dead on the battlefield in South VietNam. I cannot say if there were or there were not, except to say that they were rare occasions and few in number. The North Vietnamese Army had large-unit formations that operated in South VietNam, complete with armor/artillery, uniforms, and flags....but I never heard any reports of Red Chinese military units of any size. There were rumors of Red Chinese logistical support, well behind the lines, repairing railroads, bridges, and the like, to maintain the flow of troops and supplies into South VietNam. I do not know that this was ever verified with hard evidence.

No one seems to remember anymore the small war that started in 1979, when Red Chinese regular units invaded North VietNam at several points. The euphoria enjoyed by the anti-war protesters at the fall of Saigon in April 1975, turned into utter confusion when the Chinese pulled a surprise invasion of North VietNam. This conflict continued until 1990 and likely only ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. If you are not familiar with the Sino-Vietnamese conflict, you might enjoy a bit of light reading.

Anonymous CarpeOro September 21, 2017 2:51 PM  

Meh. I don't see the USA selling nukes to anyone. Yet. The government needs to maintain the fiction of supporting non-proliferation for all for the time being. That in mind, I see only half-hearted condemnation by some mid-level member of whatever administration is in when the news leaks out.

Blogger James Dixon September 21, 2017 2:55 PM  

> Not sure whether Japan would be willing to provide them with weapons-grade plutonium, but I wouldn't rule that out.

Neither would I. Nor would I rule out them building everything but the warheads and Japan providing them if needed.

Blogger DonReynolds September 21, 2017 2:57 PM  

Everyone keeps talking about nukes like they were simply more powerful iron bombs that make a lot of noise and destroy everything. It seems that the special class of nuke weapons...called the neutron bomb...has been completely forgotten. The Soviets decried the development of the neutron bomb as inhumane....a bomb that kills every living thing while leaving buildings and houses undisturbed. In that regard, the neutron bomb is more like a chemical weapon.

Of course, the neutron bomb would not be wasted on civilian populations. It would have been the perfect weapon during the Korean conflict, when dealing with mass infantry formations of the Red Chinese Army.

Blogger TheLiberatorOfBados September 21, 2017 3:00 PM  

NK will surrender their nukes by the end of the year. China has already called uncle on the issue.

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 3:06 PM  

NK would crumble quicker than Iraq (1991-92 or 2003 version).

20,000 + artillery pieces. 500,000 shells in one hour at 25 shells per piece per hour. This does not include rockets and conventional missiles. Nor, biological. It also does not include in place saboteurs.

Forgetting: There were 950 Thousand coalition troops in place leading up to the 91 invasion of Iraq. Good luck in getting half of that on the NK border before invasion. If you are talking about "super weapons", we're not the only ones who haves them. But, USA Bigly!

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 3:27 PM  

NK would crumble quicker than Iraq (1991-92 or 2003 version).

What Elder Son said. And even if NK did crumble quickly, that's still a lot of dead South Koreans. If the US wanted to and could invade NK to depose the Kim dynasty, they would have done it long ago. North Korea basically holds SK hostage and if we invaded NK without permission from the Chinese then we would be at war with China. NK wants nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip, sure. But the real danger to the regime is China and the NK populous.

Blogger Anchorman September 21, 2017 3:30 PM  

20,000 + artillery pieces. 500,000 shells in one hour at 25 shells per piece per hour. This does not include rockets and conventional missiles. Nor, biological. It also does not include in place saboteurs.

Forgetting: There were 950 Thousand coalition troops in place leading up to the 91 invasion of Iraq. Good luck in getting half of that on the NK border before invasion. If you are talking about "super weapons", we're not the only ones who haves them. But, USA Bigly!


Nothing to do with USA Bigly.

Has everything to do with a criminally stovepiped C2, deep ports easily blockaded, zero chance of air superiority, let alone supremacy, and minimal logistics support capability beyond their borders.

You speak like someone who thinks computer games are good indicators of how wars should go.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 3:30 PM  

I would be surprised if NK doesn't have artillery ammo with lots of nasty chemicals in its arsenal as well.

Blogger Anchorman September 21, 2017 3:34 PM  

How did Saddam's "battle tested, 3,000,000 man army" fare, given almost identical limitations?

Meanwhile, unlike the desert, there are better facilities to accept our military airlifts.

Talk all you want, NK's military threat is just that - a threat. They will never be the aggressor, because it would end the regime in weeks.

Blogger Anchorman September 21, 2017 3:36 PM  

I would be surprised if NK doesn't have artillery ammo with lots of nasty chemicals in its arsenal as well.

Expensive to develop weaponized version, produce, and maintain (and replenish), especially if there's another weapon's program gobbling up massive amounts of funds.

There's stuff we do and take for granted other nations can do.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 3:37 PM  

#76

It's not a matter of whether or not the US would win vs NK. Of course they would. But the cost to the US and SK would be too high. And, China is not going to look favorably on an invasion force coming up from the south towards its border. And if you did conquer NK, what would be the benefit? Hell, SK doesn't want the economic burden that is going to be imposed once the Korea is reunited.

SK - fabulously wealthy, highly educated, high tech society.
NK - economically impoverished, brainwashed, taught to be racist - even against South Koreans.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 3:41 PM  

They will never be the aggressor, because it would end the regime in weeks.

I agree with this. I don't think anyone disagrees with this. Hell, China would probably invade NK to put a stop to it if NK invaded SK. China trades with SK. They want to be the big dog in a wealthy part of the world. But I also don't think the US is going to invade NK either.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer September 21, 2017 3:45 PM  

For that matter, if Kim did decide to invade SK, I think his generals would depose him. What happens to the leadership of NK once the regime is forcibly deposed? They get put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Anonymous BBGKB September 21, 2017 3:56 PM  

Meanwhile in India:
Nation of street shitters recognizes right to privacy

"Gay rights activists in India are enthusiastic about what the right to privacy means for the country’s LGBT community, which is specifically addressed in the ruling."
http://www.towleroad.com/2017/09/gay-rights-india/

Anonymous Looking Glass September 21, 2017 4:19 PM  

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/09/21/oh-my-text-of-president-trump-executive-order-on-sanctions-to-north-korea/

So, speaking of North Korea, Trump just drove a wedge between China & their princeling in North Korea. Trump just blockaded North Korea by cutting them off from China. Oh, sure, some chunks of China will still deal with NK. Then they'll find out how nasty American Financial Sanctions can be.

The funny thing about the Elites is they mostly hate each other but are, currently, on the same page because they all profit from it. Trump is slicing them apart, slowly, by changing all of their calculations. Trump is going to put deep cuts into China and let the sharks feast on them, until such time as Trump takes them out as well.

Blogger Stilicho September 21, 2017 5:13 PM  

If south Korea wishes to appease the norks, that is their prerogative. However, I see no need to defend them from their choices. Withdraw all US forces from Korea and support a nuclear Japan. The decline in south Korean goods once the norks take over will provide a nice boost to Japanese manufacturing and possibly US manufacturing as well.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( i'm sorry you raped Andrea Dworkin and i disavow your Patriarchal Cisheteronormative Bourgeois Consciousness in shame ) September 21, 2017 5:26 PM  

VD
It doesn't matter if China is on board if South Korea is not.



yeah, that's the salient.

if it's South Korea refusing to let us act, then we aren't accomplishing anything with our DMZ troop deployments but

1 - providing targets for the Norks / Chinese
2 - propping up a 1st world manufacturing center to compete directly against US workers ( anybody notice how successful Hyundia and Kia are? gosh, what if South Korea had to foot their own defense bill? )
3 - funneling billions of dollars into SK in order to rake even more money off of the US taxpayer

http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/us-expands-13bn-military-base-in-south-korea/news-story/4d4e9d39875722ae25be50c9d03888fc

if it's SK obstructing us, the answer is to pull out of SK all together. or at least make the threat.

let them fall to the Norks. let the Norks turn SK into another shit hole. better for US / Japanese / Taiwan manufacturing that way. MUCH better for the US taxpayer.

and Japan / Philippines / Taiwan get the message loud and clear:
IF you don't want to address the strategic problems that threaten YOUR countries
THEN the US is just wasting our time and resources here.


pay for your own damn defense.

Anonymous nordicthunder September 21, 2017 6:14 PM  

wondering if this idea/system has become reality https://infogalactic.com/info/Kinetic_bombardment

Blogger Elocutioner September 21, 2017 6:26 PM  

TheLiberatorOfBados gets it. There will be no selling of nuclear weapons. Trump has been maneuvering on this since November. Something like 90% of NK's trade is with China and the EO today just put a big damper on that. He even managed to get China and Russia to sign off on the UN resolution a few weeks ago so there's no political cover for not fixing it. He has rightly identified the owner of this mess - China - and made them responsible for cleaning it up. It's not OUR problem, but if China doesn't fix it then China's economy implodes as we stop trading with them. It's nice that we have someone who understands leverage and isn't afraid to use it to our benefit.

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 6:56 PM  

Has everything to do with a criminally stovepiped C2, deep ports easily blockaded, zero chance of air superiority, let alone supremacy, and minimal logistics support capability beyond their borders.

You speak like someone who thinks computer games are good indicators of how wars should go.


China. And Russia.

Fantasize and wet-dream all you want.

Blogger Elder Son September 21, 2017 7:02 PM  

Sanctions: http://globalbalita.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Xi-Jinping-and-Vladimir-Putin-toast-May-2014.jpg

Anonymous Jack September 21, 2017 7:34 PM  

China has a growing problem with crystal meth, much of which comes from North Korean labs. On the one hand, they might be mad about this, while on the other hand, it might be a convenient way to get more work out of the peasants in the short term while limiting the population in the longer term.

I'm not convinced China has ever been on board with helping out the "international community" with NK. Deception at every level is a time-honored tradition with the Chinese. It's in their military manuals and stories going back thousands of years.

A nuclear Japan, armed by the US, seems possible, but arming Taiwan in the same way would be tantamount to an act of war against China. I suspect that a deal will be made in which the Chinese reluctantly acquiesce to a nuclear Japan and/or South Korea in order to control North Korea, for which in return they will get a green light to fully take over Taiwan. The Chinese decided years ago that it's better to gradually "buy" Taiwan than to invade it, so that may mean nothing more than continuation and acceleration of what has already been happening.

Blogger Abyssus Invocat September 21, 2017 7:56 PM  

Taiwan actually did go nuclear for a short time with help from South Africa & Israel. The US at the time was busily burying its head in China's ass and disarmed Taiwan under threat , with help from a traitor inside Taiwan's nuclear program.

Blogger Akulkis September 21, 2017 8:17 PM  

I've had a Kia and it was a damned good car. But the reason it was so good is for two reasons:

1. Backing from General Motors, both technical and financial

2. Designing engine compartment layouts that the owner can work with on -- something American automakers stopped doing around 1980.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( i'm sorry you raped Andrea Dworkin and i disavow your Patriarchal Cisheteronormative Bourgeois Consciousness in shame ) September 21, 2017 8:19 PM  

Mountain Man September 21, 2017 11:20 AM
The saber rattling on the part of NK is so that the US backs off and leaves them alone.



no, the saber rattling is so the US will give them millions of dollars build nuclear plants for them.

just like we've done before.

Anonymous krymneth September 21, 2017 8:35 PM  

DonReynolds wrote:It seems that the special class of nuke weapons...called the neutron bomb...has been completely forgotten.

I don't have a link handy... since everybody is incentivized to exaggerate the threat of nuclear weapons and few to be honest about it... but I've seen a fairly sensible-looking analysis that suggests the reason why neutron bombs are ignored is that they aren't useful. A thing to remember about neutron bombs is that they are still nuclear bombs, so at the location of the detonation you still get the "everything is destroyed" effect. Then there is some radius where the neutrons are strong enough to kill people quickly, then slowly, then not really at all, and it turns out that the fatal radii turn out to be in the "hundreds of meters" range, and that's not very useful. There's not that large a range where you were killed by neutrons specifically.

The idea of a neutron bomb that explodes in the middle of a city, somehow not harming anything, but killing everybody, is very likely a myth, which is why you don't hear much about it in serious plans. For the most part, said planners would be overjoyed to discover their enemies decided to go that route rather than simply build big honkin' nukes for the same amount of effort.

Blogger Abyssus Invocat September 21, 2017 8:41 PM  

We wouldn't even have to actively arm Japan or South Korea. Just announce that given North Korean belllicosity and China's unfortunate inability to assist, the United States can no longer in good conscience object if Korea and Japan see the need for an independent nuclear deterrent. It wouldn't take either country very long.

Blogger Lazarus September 21, 2017 8:56 PM  

If the US manages to destroy NK economically, millions will starve, but that is a sideshow. Once the leadership lifestyle is affected, negotiations begin.

Millions will starve that others may live. This is how the world works.

Blogger Ken Prescott September 21, 2017 9:07 PM  

krymneth wrote:DonReynolds wrote:It seems that the special class of nuke weapons...called the neutron bomb...has been completely forgotten.

I don't have a link handy... since everybody is incentivized to exaggerate the threat of nuclear weapons and few to be honest about it... but I've seen a fairly sensible-looking analysis that suggests the reason why neutron bombs are ignored is that they aren't useful. A thing to remember about neutron bombs is that they are still nuclear bombs, so at the location of the detonation you still get the "everything is destroyed" effect. Then there is some radius where the neutrons are strong enough to kill people quickly, then slowly, then not really at all, and it turns out that the fatal radii turn out to be in the "hundreds of meters" range, and that's not very useful. There's not that large a range where you were killed by neutrons specifically.

The idea of a neutron bomb that explodes in the middle of a city, somehow not harming anything, but killing everybody, is very likely a myth, which is why you don't hear much about it in serious plans. For the most part, said planners would be overjoyed to discover their enemies decided to go that route rather than simply build big honkin' nukes for the same amount of effort.


The joke during the Cold War was that towns in the Fulda Gap were two kilotons apart. Neutron weapons were typically in the two-kiloton range, so you'd still end up devastating most of the countryside.

EMP is similar; unless you're talking about very high-yield warheads (such as the single-warhead variant of the SS-18 with a yield of 20-25 megatons) detonated at the edge of the atmosphere, the range of EMP effects is going to be very close to the edge of the fireball, and if that's where you are, you're going to have much, much worse problems than your cell phone not working any more...

Blogger Ken Prescott September 21, 2017 9:09 PM  

Elder Son wrote:Something is hokey when NK flies a potential nuclear ballistic missile over Japan, and Japan (USA Bigly) didn't shoot it down.

Rounds that pass over are zero threat and not worth wasting an SM-3 or THAAD on. Rounds that are going to impact on national territory are a different matter.

Blogger Some Guy September 21, 2017 10:37 PM  

Or N Gundam

Blogger Some Guy September 21, 2017 10:46 PM  

They are currently in the national equivalent of seppuku. They believe they were the bad guys in world war 2. At some point, they will look at all the men dressed as women in the US and it will stop. They will reclaim their heritage as warriors and the whole world will have an oh shit moment.

Blogger Kristophr September 22, 2017 12:55 AM  

Ron Winkleheimer wrote:

NK has a lot of advantages that mitigate against that. Primarily, they can target SK using conventional artillery that is already in place on the NK/SK border. Any attempt at invasion would mean at a minimum several thousand dead SK civilians and a lot of infrastructure damage.



SK has already had an arty duel with the Norks. After that island was shelled, and a bunch of civilians killed, the ROK pasted the snot out of every military base in range with a surprise multi-day artillery attack. Every Nork base in range was obliterated.

If North Korea starts shelling, they will keep their arty only for a few minutes.

Anonymous CarpeOro September 22, 2017 7:21 AM  

Some Guy wrote:They are currently in the national equivalent of seppuku. They believe they were the bad guys in world war 2. At some point, they will look at all the men dressed as women in the US and it will stop. They will reclaim their heritage as warriors and the whole world will have an oh shit moment.

Have you never watched anime or read about Japan's social environment in the last two decades? They are far past caring about WWII, much more concerned as their birth rate plummets.

Anonymous Clay September 22, 2017 9:36 AM  

Ya know, even if Japan doesn't have a "nuclear building" infrastructure, don't think they don't already have nukes.

It's called "Made In The USA".

Anonymous Clay September 22, 2017 9:44 AM  

BTW...I'm glad to see someone else on this blog mention the Neutron Bomb.

Yeah. It went the way of the Dodo.

Gimme a break.

Anonymous Clay September 22, 2017 11:13 AM  

BTW...again. Although I think EMPS are a weapon of the future, I don't think we have learned to shield our own forces from their effect.

Where have they been tested?

Blogger Akulkis September 22, 2017 12:13 PM  

Our military electronics are shielded. That's basic mil-spec.
Vehicles, on the other hand...

Anonymous Clay September 22, 2017 12:33 PM  

Uh huh...and you are so confident our "military electronics" are "shielded?....how?

Where is the proof-in-the-pudding?

We don't have neutron bombs any more, do we?

Mil-Spec went out with the 1911.

Anonymous Mr. Rational September 23, 2017 1:07 AM  

@63  You have no idea what you're talking about.  "Highly enriched" refers to uranium, which must be enriched before it can support fission with a light-water moderator, and highly enriched before it can support fast fission (the fission cross-section of U-235 shrinks radically with neutron energy).  Sufficiently-enriched uranium is weapons-grade by definition.

"Weapons grade" usually refers to plutonium.  Chemically pure plutonium is fairly easy to make, but the isotopes thereof are grossly infungible.  Pu-239 is what you want for bombs; it is fissile and has a relatively low rate of spontaneous fissions and heat production.  Pu-238 has a massively high rate of heat production (which is why it's specifically made to power RTGs, but will degrade or even "cook off" the implosion explosives) and Pu-240 has a sky-high rate of spontaneous fissions (which will pre-trigger a bomb and produce a "fizzle" if it occurs at the wrong time during the implosion process; this makes weapons unreliable).  "Weapons grade" Pu is 93% or more Pu-239, and 7% or less all others.

For comparison, the Pu in spent LWR fuel is well over 20% Pu-240.  Nobody has ever made a weapon from it, and nobody ever will.  If you're going to do isotopic purification you might as well use uranium, it's cheaper and much less of a headache.

The impression I got is that the Norks' record with the Yongbyan reactor and failed early bomb tests suggests that they over-irradiated their depleted uranium targets to get higher Pu yield and minimize their reprocessing cost, learned the hard way about Pu-240 and switched over to HEU for bombs.  I wouldn't swear to this, it's just what I gathered from people much more in the know than I'll ever be.

As for neutron bombs, people here are betraying their ignorance again.  A neutron bomb is a 2-stage fission-fusion weapon; it omits the third fission stage, spraying the environment with 14.7 MeV neutrons and heating things up with 3.7 MeV alpha particles instead of ~200 MeV fissions of a depleted uranium tamper.  There is a VASTLY smaller amount of heat energy released, and a strong bias toward neutrons.

The effectiveness of neutrons is 5-20 times as much as gamma rays, depending on energy.  That's how it can kill crews inside tanks while not igniting massive fires.  The neutron bomb became obsolete when non-nuclear anti-armor weapons made mass tank assaults obsolete.

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