Thumping his chest after a successful Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] launch, 33-year-old North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un took a big step toward his goal of a nuclear-tipped rocket. Flying 4,475 km [2,780 miles] high, more that 10 times the height of the International Space Station, the Hwasong-15 ICBM tells 71-year-old President Donald Trump that the window of stopping a nuclear-armed North Korea closed almost shut. Trump and his 67-year-old Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis don’t have much time to contemplate what to do next, especially because China and Russia accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. “After watching the successful launch of a new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong-un declares with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” reported North Korean state TV.
Trump’s promise of preventing Kim from getting a nuclear-tipped ICBM got more difficult, with diplomatic options no longer viable. “Just spoke to Presidnet Xi Jimgping of China concerning the provocative acts of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today,” Trump tweeted. Whatever China does to ratchet up the pressure, there’s zero evidence that Kim would stop his nuke and ballistic missile program. All the U.N. sanctions and international diplomacy won’t stop Kim from getting his nuke-tipped ICBM. North Korea’s Nov. 27 launch proves that it has mastered the reentry technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead to any place on the globe, including major U.S. cities. Calling the new launch “impeccable” and a “breakthrough,” North Korea declared itself a “responsible nuclear power,” to defend itself against “the U.S. imperialists.”
Trump’s reliance on China to put down the hammer on North Korea can’t stop Kim from completing his nuclear-armed ICBM. Yet China’s already told Trump that there are limits what it can do to stop Kim from completing his goal. “I am counting a lot in particular on China and Russia in order to take the most difficult and effective sanctions,” French President Emanuel Macron told France 24 TV. White House and Pentagon officials do not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. “We don’t have to like it, but we’re going to have to learn to live with North Korea’s ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of East Asian Nonproliferation Program at Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies. Accepting Pyongyang as a nuclear-armed state hardly sounds like nonproliferation, other than accepting North Korean propaganda.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sept. 25 that Trump would not strike North Korea because it could strike back as a nuclear-armed state. Lavrov has no more information than the Pentagon and U.S. intel agencies, all saying that North Korea isn’t there yet with regard to a nuclear-armed ICBM. Traveling some 590 miles taking 53 minutes, Kim’s Hwasong-15 ICBM showed that its mastered the reentry technology to drop a bomb on any U.S. city. Whether or not Trump knows the exact sites of Kim’s nukes and ballistic missiles, he still needs to neutralize the most compelling threat to U.S. national security since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Macron says he’s counting on Russia and China to neutralize Kim. But from all accounts, Russia and China are ready accept Pyongyang as a nuclear power. Trump promised he wouldn’t let Kim get a nuke-armed ICBM.
Defense Secretary James Mattis acknowledged that Kim’s Hwasong-15 demonstrated all the characteristic of an ICBM, capable of carrying a nuclear payload to the U.S. mainland or other parts of the globe. “It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” said Mattis. Mattis emphasized the urgency of U.S. options in the absence of Kim coming to the bargaining table with his nukes and ballistic missiles. Running out of options, Trump knows he no longer has time to deal with Pyongyang. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. has “a long list of additional potential sanctions . . “ but there’s no guarantee that it will stop Kim’s feverish march to an operational nuke-armed ICBM threatening the U.S. homeland.
Telling the media that its Hwasong-15 ICBM was designed to carry a “super-large heavy warhead,” North Korea means business as nuclear-armed state. Insisting he needs nukes and ballistic missile to stop a U.S. invasion, Kim knows that there’s been no invasion since the July 27, 1953 Korean War armistice. Kim wants a nuclear-armed ICBM to blackmail the West of more cash and political concessions Kim knows that if he gets his nuclear-armed ICBM, the U.S. could no longer stop North Korean demands. With the South Korean Winter Olympics starting Feb. 9, there’s little Trump can do until the games end Feb. 25. When Trump talks about more sanctions or giving diplomacy a chance, he knows that Kim isn’t about to disarm. Holding more Security Council meetings, disarmament summits or peace talks won’t stop Kim from completing his nuclear-armed ICBM.