North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States, as the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the North’s “highly provocative” ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim’s comments on Saturday — a day after US and South Korean militaries detected the missile launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) as it passed over the Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the country’s longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.
The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, the same model launched over Japan on August 29.
Under Kim’s watch, North Korea has maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its most powerful nuclear test to date on September 3 and two July flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the US mainland when perfected.
The increasingly frequent and aggressive tests have added to outside fears that the North is closer than ever to building a military arsenal that could viably target the US and its allies in Asia.
Kim also said the country, despite “limitless” international sanctions, has nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for “all-state efforts” to reach the goal and obtain a “capacity for nuclear counterattack the US cannot cope with.”
“As recognized by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the UN sanctions that have lasted for decades,” the agency quoted Kim as saying.
Kim said the country’s final goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military option for the DPRK,” referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
With each passing day and each new ICBM launch from a seemingly unhinged North Korean dictator, the fears of an attack on the U.S. mainland, though faint, increasingly weigh on the hearts and minds of Americans, particularly those in California. As The Guardian points out today, those fears have even prompted a group of California public health officials and emergency responders to gather for a strategy session with Hal Kempfer, a retired marine lieutenant colonel, to discuss which areas are the most likely targets and how citizens should respond to an attack.
Hal Kempfer, a noted international security expert, is getting a roomful of California public health officials and emergency responders to think about the unthinkable – a nuclear bomb exploding at the port of Long Beach, about four miles away.
“A lot of people will be killed,” he said, “but a large percentage of the population will survive. They will be at risk and they will need help.”
“If you want to mess up southern California, if you want to mess up the west coast, if you want to mess up our country – where do you attack?” Kempfer asks. “If I’m sitting in North Korea and looking at possible targets, I’m going to be looking at Long Beach very closely.”
He talks about the port and downtown Long Beach being “toast” – no exaggeration, since the blast wave is likely to vaporize everything in its immediate path. But the city health department, the Long Beach airport and fire department might not be; they are all somewhat protected by a hilly area that is likely to halt the initial blast wave. And so the city can, tentatively, think about setting up a center of emergency operations.
Of course, the radioactive fallout created as the explosion gathers up tremendous quantities of dust and ocean water and spits them into the atmosphere would represent a secondary grave risk, especially in the first hours after an attack.
Not to mention the electromagnetic pulse that is likely to knock out electronic systems including phones and computers, the pile-ups expected on the freeways as drivers are blinded by the flash of the explosion, the rush for food, water and gasoline as millions of Angelenos attempt to drive out of the region, and the terror triggered by even the idea of a second, follow-up attack.
Meanwhile, lest you think this was all just a creative way for some public employees to skip work for a day, Ventura County, located just northwest of Los Angeles, has even taken the unusual step of prepping a 250-page plan on how to respond to the humanitarian crisis that would result from a nuclear attack in Los Angeles.
In fact, their efforts even include this truly bizarre public service announcement that instructs folks to shelter in place and cover windows with plastic.
The bellicose exchange of rhetoric between the US President and the North Korean leader indicates a sort of "game of chicken," Dr. Jaechun Kim, a Professor of Political Science at Songang University, told Sputnik.
Speaking to Sputnik, a South Korean political analyst specifically focused on the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang in light of North Korea's push to conduct more nuclear tests.
Dr. Jaechun Kim, in particular, commented on US President Donald Trump expressing doubt that sanctions against North Korea would have any effect and Pyongyang's warning that the US would soon suffer "the greatest pain" it had ever experienced.
At the same time, Kim warned that "the war could break out if there is miscalculation and deception" about his adversary's intentions.
When asked about the possibility of a direct military conflict between the US and Pyongyang, Kim said that such a possibility is still in place.
"If North Korea launches an attack either against South Korea or the United States, these countries will have no other option but to retaliate," he added.
According to him, "the United States would not launch a preventive attack against North Korea because, if you like it or not, Pyongyang has enough military capability to deter a US first strike."
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, for his part, told reporters that any threats to the United States or its allies would be met with a massive, "effective and overwhelming" military response.
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