North Korean Threat Increases Uncertainty

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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New and ongoing developments by the communist military are altering the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear capabilities “keep us awake at night,” according to the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, warned that the communist government’s recent developments pose a much greater threat to peace and security than traditionally offered.

Speaking at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Gen. Conant said, “The game is about ready to change with that peninsula.” North Korea’s new mobile missile can reach the United States, and its continued nuclear weapon development increases that threat. “It’s no longer a problem for just South Korea or Japan,” he stated.

“North Korea is the wild card for us out here—we’re watching them closely,” the general continued. “We will not accept them as a nuclear state, but they are working on that capability. Can they miniaturize a weapon and build a re-entry vehicle? It doesn’t matter—the range of that [mobile missile] weapon has changed the equation out here.”

And, this menace is compounded by the threat to cyberspace. Any attempt by the United States or its allies to defend against a North Korean attack could be affected by a cyber attack. “You have a period of time measured in minutes when you see a missile headed for Guam or Hawaii,” the general offered. “You have to make a decision quickly, and you can’t have someone inside that network moving around those ones and zeros.”

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