What if... North Korea nuked Seattle?
Created on June 1, 2009
North Korea Makes the Case for a Robust U.S. Missile
By all appearances, North Korea's Kim Jong-il is a dictator in a
No sooner did Kim's repressive regime detonate a nuclear device
underground during Memorial Day weekend than it began to get ready
above ground to test-launch another long-range missile.
"North Korea has positioned its most sophisticated
long-range ballistic missile at a launch site for a test firing
that could come within weeks," theLos Angeles Times reported
June 1 from Seoul, citing a South Korean newspaper account.
It would be just Kim's style, the report speculates, to go for
maximum drama by test-firing a missile or missiles June 16 -- when
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is scheduled to meet with
President Barack Obama in Washington. The communist regime's last
test of long-range missiles was April 6.
Among Kim's obvious goals is for Pyongyang to be able to
threaten Washington and other major American cities with
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) armed with nuclear
For now, that remains a future threat. But the consequences of
one such missile strike - on Seattle, for instance - would be
"North Korea has initiated a rapid-fire series of
provocations against the U.S., South Korea and Japan without
allowing time for diplomatic outreach," Bruce Klingner, The
Heritage Foundation's expert on North Korea, wrote within hours of
the underground test blast. "The rapid pace since January indicates
North Korea is intent on achieving a viable nuclear weapon and ICBM
Pyongyang's activities "underscore the critical need for America
to develop and deploy a missile defense system," Klingner, a former CIA official, notes in
outlining concrete steps the U.S. should take to counter Kim.
Dong-a Ilbo, a newspaper in Seoul, first reported the expected
launch and said it likely involves a version of the Taepodong-2
rocket fired by Pyongyang in April -- and theoretically capable of
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reacted by saying he may not
continue to recommend cuts in the still-developing missile defense
program if North Korea keeps up such belligerence.
"If anything, I think what the North Koreans have
done has won more adherents to the importance of our having at
least a unified missile defense capability," Gates said during
a visit June 1 to the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greeley in
Alaska, the Associated Press reported.
President Obama has said he remains skeptical of missile defense
technology, despite a high success rate in U.S. military tests.
Experts in the field make the case for the technology in "33
Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age," Heritage's
plain-talking, nonpartisan documentary film on the need to counter
the growing threat of missile attack.
"The threat that a North Korean nuke could reach us is on the
horizon," Heritage national security expert Peter Brookes writes of
the test that took place Memorial Day weekend."We don't
know how distant that horizon is, but it appears to have moved