Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear deterrence’

Why threatening Kim Jong-un is futile

September 7, 2017

Kim Jong-un tells the people of North Korea that they live in the most advanced and admired nation in the world, but that they are under threat by the United States.

Threatening North Korea reinforces the message that they have to unify behind their Supreme Leader.

Isolating North Korea helps shut out the knowledge that not everybody in the world is as regimented and poor as they area.

Recent history shows Kim that there is no safety in renouncing nuclear weapons.  Saddam Hussein renounced nuclear weapons,   Muammar Qaddafi renounced nuclear weapons.   That didn’t save them from being killed like animals following the U.S. invasion of Iraq and proxy invasion of Libya.

Kim Jong-un surely knows that a nuclear attack on the United States would be suicidal.   His nuclear weapons tests and missile demonstrations make sense as an attempt to deter attack.   Bear in mind that the United States  conducts military exercises in South Korea as if rehearsing for an attack on North Kora.

The real danger is if Kim Jong-un comes to believe that his country is going to be attacked, and that he has nothing to lose by firing nuclear missiles (assuming he actually has nuclear missiles).

(more…)

Iran’s nuclear deterrent

May 19, 2011

I think it is likely that Iran is working on nuclear bombs and missiles because that is what I would do if I were Supreme Leader of Iran.  So long as people in the United States or Israel talk about attacking Iran, the rulers of Iran will try to acquire a deterrent.

Jonathan Schell in The Seventh Decade: the New Shape of Nuclear Danger, pointed out that every country that acquired nuclear weapons did so in response to some external threat.

The United States developed nuclear weapons for fear that Nazi Germany was trying to do the same thing.  The Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons to deter a nuclear attack by the United States.  Britain and France sought to deter a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union as well as to not be completely dependent on the United States for their defense.  China sought to deter the Soviet Union and the United States.  India sought to deter China as well as to assert great power status.  Pakistan sought to deter India.  North Korea and Israel are countries under siege with a need for deterrents.

It is understandable that the leaders of Iran, surrouned by a nuclear Israel, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and U.S. fleet, would also seek a nuclear deterrent.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that a nuclear Iran would be a threat to the United States.  That is not so.  Russia is the only nation with a sufficient nuclear stockpile to threaten the existence of the United States.  But if Iran had only one nuclear weapon, and a missile capable of delivering it to the United States or Israel, that would be sufficient to deter an attack by either of those countries.  The United States would not be attacking Libya if the Libyan government had nuclear weapons.

I admit I could be wrong about Iran.  I thought Saddam Hussein was working on weapons of mass destruction for the same reasons I now think so about Iran – because that’s what I would have done.  I was surprised when Iraq’s nuclear weapons program turned out to be nonexistent.  I may be surprised about Iran, too, but I don’t think so.

The development of nuclear weapons by Iran’s would be a very bad thing.  It would likely spur acquisition of nuclear weapons by Arab nations whose rulers, as the Wikileaks documents revealed, are deeply concerned about the possibility of a nuclear Iran.  The more nations whose leaders have their finger on nuclear buttons, the more likely it is that someday that one of those buttons will be pushed.

But I don’t know what can be done to prevent it.  Possibly Iran would drop its nuclear weapons program if peace could be achieved with the United States, Israel and Iran’s Arab neighbors.  I don’t see a path as to how this can be accomplished.  I don’t think sanctions and threats will achieve this purpose.

(more…)