U.S. can destroy ‘most’ of North Korea’s nuclear missile infrastructure, top general says

By Paul Sonne  – Washington Post

January 30, 2018

The U.S. military is confident it could destroy “most” of the infrastructure underpinning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program if necessary in a favorable scenario, a top American general said Tuesday.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. military could “get at most of his infrastructure” when asked about Kim’s nuclear missile program, but he declined to specify the percentage of North Korean missiles U.S. forces could dismantle in the event of any military action.

His comments indicate that the United States possesses enough information to target not only North Korea’s missiles but also the support facilities that allow a launch in a potential attack on the United States.

“Remember, missile infrastructure is not just the missiles,” Selva said at a roundtable with journalists in Washington. “If you’re the poor sergeant that has to go out and launch the missile, and I blow up your barracks, you’re not available to go do your job.”

North Korea has been advancing rapidly toward the possession of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could land a nuclear warhead on the continental United States, posing one of the most critical national security threats the Trump administration faces.

Pyongyang conducted its first ICBM test in July and tested two more by the end of last year. The country also tested in September a nuclear weapon that a top U.S. general later said he assumed was a hydrogen bomb.

Despite the significant strides, North Korea has not yet successfully tested all the components necessary to show the world it possesses an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to a target in the U.S. mainland, Selva said.

Kim’s tests have shown that his missiles can travel far enough to reach the United States and maneuver stably in the right direction, according to Selva. But the North Korean leader has yet to demonstrate a “terminal guidance system” that allows for the specific targeting of the missile and a “reentry vehicle” capable of withstanding the stress and shock that comes with carrying a nuclear warhead back through the Earth’s atmosphere to a target, the general said.

Selva did not rule out that North Korea already possesses those technologies but said the country has not demonstrated them.

“It is possible, although I think unlikely, that he has found a way to do the test without us knowing,” Selva said. “But I can’t envision what that test would look like, where he would be convinced that he has those components at a reliable-enough level of performance to declare that he’s ready.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in an interview Monday with the BBC that the United States and its intelligence partners have developed a pretty good understanding of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

“We talk about him having the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States in a matter of a handful of months,” Pompeo said.

The United States has been stepping up pressure on North Korea through sanctions with the hope of bringing Kim into negotiations about dismantling his nuclear program. The North Korean leader has rejected the idea.

Russia and China have proposed a “freeze for freeze,” whereby the United States and its regional allies would stop military drills in exchange for a halt on North Korea’s tests.

The Trump administration, however, has rebuffed any such proposal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Jan. 16 in Vancouver that Washington rejected such an approach because it falsely equates legitimate defensive military actions by the United States and its allies with unlawful actions by North Korea.

Asked about the possibility of pursuing a “freeze for freeze,” Selva said the decision was up to the U.S. officials leading diplomacy with North Korea.

“I’m not in charge of the diplomatic effort,” Selva said. But he added that the current situation — in which North Korea has not yet crossed the finish line in its quest — presented “an opening to have that conversation.”

Selva declined to rule out the possibility of a preemptive strike on North Korea’s weapons facilities but suggested that preemption is not generally how the U.S. has approached nuclear-armed adversaries.

“We don’t do preemption,” Selva said. “Our method of warfare: If they launch one, then game on. But preemption is not something we do as a matter of course.”



Realizing Worst Fears of Peace Groups, Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review Urges Expanded Use of World’s Deadliest Weapons – “Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?”

The Pentagon’s official outline for its use of nuclear force was denounced as “radical” and “extreme” by prominent anti-nuclear weapons groups when it was released Friday afternoon—confirming peace advocates’ worst fears that the Trump administration would seek to expand the use of nuclear force.

“Who in their right mind thinks we should expand the list of scenarios in which we might launch nuclear weapons?” asked Peace Action in a statement. “Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?”

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for the development of smaller warheads that the military believes would be seen as more “usable” against other nations.

“The risk of use for nuclear weapons has always been unacceptably high. The new Trump Nuclear Doctrine is to deliberately increase that risk.”—Beatrice Fihn, ICAN

“In support of a strong and credible nuclear deterrent, the United States must…maintain a nuclear force with a diverse, flexible range of nuclear yield and delivery modes that are ready, capable, and credible,” reads the report, which serves as the first updated document the U.S. has released regarding its perceived nuclear threats since 2010.

In addition to “diversifying” its nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon notes that it will seek to “expand the range of credible U.S. options for responding to nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attack,” raising concerns that President Donald Trump will argue for the use of nuclear force as a deterrent—a significant departure from previous administrations which saw nuclear weapons as an option only for retaliation.

“The risk of use for nuclear weapons has always been unacceptably high,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). “The new Trump Nuclear Doctrine is to deliberately increase that risk. It is an all-out attempt to take nuclear weapons out of the silos and onto the battlefield. This policy is a shift from one where the use of nuclear weapons is possible to one where the use of nuclear weapons is likely.”

Derek Johnson, head of Global Zero, called the NPR “a radical plan written by extreme elements and nuclear ideologues in Trump’s inner circle who believe nuclear weapons are a wonder drug that can solve our national security challenges.”

“Trump’s insistence that we need more and better weapons is already spurring countries to follow in his footsteps,” he added. “Nuclear arms-racing is a steep and slippery slope; we’d do well to learn the lessons of the former Soviet Union, whose collapse was accelerated by its unsustainable nuclear ambitions.”



Setting Legislative Priorities 116th Congress (2019-2020)

CNL is asking Friends from across the U.S. to help set our legislative priorities for the 116th Congress.

A distinctive feature of the Friends Committee on National Legislation is our practice of asking Quakers around the country to help shape our work.

As we do every two years, FCNL is asking Friends and their meetings, churches, and other groups all over the country to share which of the many public policy issues and questions identified in FCNL’s Policy Statement, “The World We Seek,” they think are most important. What needs close attention from Friends, and from FCNL? Your answers to this question are the foundation for the lobbying priorities that FCNL will set at its Annual Meeting in November of 2018.

At our Annual Meeting in November, the General Committee (FCNL governing board) will consider the draft and approve new priorities to guide FCNL’s work in 2019 and 2020, for the 116th Congress.


FCNL Legislative Priorities for the 115th Congress

The Friends Committee on National Legislation seeks to bring spiritual values and Friends’ testimonies to bear on public policy decisions.

FCNL solicited the views and concerns of Quaker meetings, churches, and organizations around the country to help discern the following priorities for our lobbying and public education work during the 115th Congress (2017-2018).

  • Promote peacebuilding, diplomacy and the peaceful prevention and resolution of violent conflict with an emphasis on the Middle East.
  • Reduce military spending and armed interventions.
  • Promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
  • Advance equitable criminal justice systems that eliminate mass incarceration and support law-enforcement that is community-oriented and demilitarized.
  • Pursue policies that promote and respect the rights, safety, and dignity of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.
  • Promote equitable access for all citizens to participation in the political process.
  • Promote policies that reduce economic inequality and poverty; encourage fair compensation for workers and health care for all.
  • Work to end gun violence.
  • Witness and advocate on Native American concerns.
  • Advocate for sustainable solutions to climate disruption and its consequences.

In each priority FCNL and Friends are called on to identify, expose and work to eliminate institutional racism in order to promote genuine equality of opportunity and communities in which everyone can safely live, learn, work, worship, and love.

FCNL seeks to collaborate across the political spectrum to advance these priorities. FCNL’s work will be based on legislative opportunities, specific expertise, leadings, and available resources. In addition, The World We Seek (FCNL’s Policy Statement) gives FCNL the flexibility to respond to crises and to other important legislative opportunities, as Way opens.

The FCNL General Committee approved these priorities on November 13, 2016.

Letters It Is Not Mr. Trump’s Button

by Community Contributor Steve Whinfield

President Trump recently boasted that his “nuclear button” was “bigger and more powerful” than Kim Jong Un’s. His escalating rhetoric with North Korea is extremely counterproductive and dangerous. War with nuclear-armed North Korea would be a disaster for our nation and our allies in the region.

A single man must not be left to choose war for the rest of us. Sen.  Chris Murphy deserves our thanks for his new bill, Senate bill 2047, that would bar President Trump from using our taxpayer dollars to attack North Korea without congressional approval. But Sen. Murphy he needs help.

Connecticut’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Blumenthal, and his Senate colleagues should immediately co-sponsor this legislation to send a strong message that the nation will not permit Donald J. Trump alone to choose war with North Korea.

Steve Whinfield, Cheshire