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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

10.06.2006

About Those North Korean Nukes

Put up or shut up in Pyongyang:

For several years the U.S. has been operating under the assumption that Pyongyang has the bomb. One usually hears that they have the capability to have produced eleven weapons, an estimate that rises every year or so. “Capability to have produced” means that we don’t actually know what is in their inventory, but based on estimates of the availability of the component parts — most importantly fissile material, which is the most difficult component to acquire — analysts figure they could have eleven weapons, if they chose to build them.

But do we know for a fact that they have even one working weapon? Do they even know? Without a test, how could they? Even if they had the components, even if they assembled them, they could not know for certain the weapons would work unless they tested at least one. It would be foolish to assume otherwise, especially with weapons as complex as atomic bombs; the expression “fine North Korean craftsmanship” has yet to catch on.

Yet in the world of deterrence, there is no difference between a country actually having a nuclear capability and simply having others believe they have that capability. Adversaries will be deterred either way. The fact that the North Koreans have never tested a nuclear weapon is a very good reason for doubting they have them. Wouldn’t it make sense from their point of view to make the deterrent more credible by demonstrating it exists? On the other hand, since we already assume they have nuclear weapons, why should they bother?


Might it be that the mullahs won't buy any until they know they work?

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