The Breach: North Korea’s Nuclear Strategy


Over at the Breach, Lindsay Beyerstein interviews Ankit Panda:

Lindsay: What kind of nuclear strategy is North Korea entertaining at this point?

Ankit: So this is the question of the hour. It's been something that I've been talking about with Vipin Narang who is a nuclear strategy expert up in Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I actually recently had him on my own podcast to kind of talk this stuff in like really wonky detail. I'll try not to get into too much detail right now

Lindsay: It's wonderful everybody should go download that episode of The Diplomat, it's really good.

Ankit: Oh thank you. Thank you, Lindsay. But like to just very quickly wrap up what I think is going on in North Korea's nuclear strategy is that, they're essentially looking to use a first strike nuclear strategy. But they're planning to use a first strike within the theater. So the theater you can broadly think of everything kind of 2,000 to 3,000 miles out from North Korea. So, basically, what the North Koreans have been saying … they're actually pretty explicit about it this. This isn't something that kind of tell us in poetry and we have to kind of spend hours decoding. They have very explicitly released statements through their foreign ministry – actually, their deputy foreign minister had a great statement in April where he kind of laid this out. Basically, this is what they say: if North Korea ever gets the sense that The United States and South Korea are mobilizing to preemptively attack North Korea, or preemptively take out Kim Jong-un, or preemptively kind of take out North Korea nuclear launch sites, they will launch everything they have except their intercontinental range systems, right? So they will launch their short range systems, their medium range systems, their intermediate range systems first, with nuclear war heads and conventional explosive range warheads. They will launch them at pretty much every US asset in the region, right? So this includes the Port Of Pusan, Iwakuni air force base in Japan, Guam. And to kind of tell you that I'm not crazy and kind of envisioning this, when they release images of their recent nuclear tests — it's really interesting they kind of dangle these maps, right? So if you look at Kim Jongun's desk, for example, in February — or sorry in March — when they tested these four extended range scud missiles, there was this map on Kim Jun-un's desk. And I think this was the map that showed these missiles going to Iwakuni, right…

More here.