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What Would Happen If North Korea Launched A Nuclear Weapon


“North Korea launched another intercontinental ballistic missile.” “People were told to take cover in basements or in concrete buildings.” “Could this kind of missile now reach cities on the East Coast, possibly New York or D.C.?” What would happen if North Korea launched a nuclear weapon? U.S. officials think North Korea has as many as 60 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. And tensions between the two countries have escalated to new levels during the Donald Trump presidency. Remember when Trump compared the size of their nuclear buttons? So, how close are we to an actual nuclear war? It’s closer than you might think. The U.S. is reportedly considering a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea. This could include a manned airstrike or shooting down a missile test launch. Basically, a warning shot intended to humiliate North Korea. But this warning could be taken as an act of war. Jeffrey Lewis is an expert on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation. He thinks the “bloody nose” tactic could lead to disaster. The way I think of it is — the problem with the bloody nose approach is imagine if you saw a guy holding a gun. Like if you walk up and punch him in the nose, he might very well shoot you. Because he doesn’t know that it’s only gonna be one punch in the nose. It’s also possible that a Trump tweet could push North Korea over the edge. You could imagine that in the middle of a crisis, where there’s a lot of stress and confirmation bias and pressure, a poorly worded tweet might be interpreted as the start of an attack. North Korea may also strike first, but that’s less likely. At least, that’s what former missile launch officer Bruce Blair thinks. I would be willing to imagine that he would not launch a nuclear weapon at the United States or our allies unprovoked, because he knows that would be the absolute end of his regime. They are worried that the Kim family will suffer the same fate as Saddam and his family or maybe Muammar Gaddafi. Regardless of the trigger, Lewis says North Korea’s attack would be in two phases. In the first phase, North Korea would look to wipe out nearby U.S. defenses. They would launch nuclear missiles at U.S. forces based in Japan and South Korea. When they talk about nuclear weapons, they say the mission of their nuclear weapons is to deter and repel an invasion. The purpose of those nuclear weapons would be to try to destroy the U.S.’s ability to invade them. So destroy the airfields where aircraft may operate out of. To destroy any troops that are massed. To try to damage ports. The U.S. has 30,000 troops based throughout South Korea. In the event of an attack, these troops would likely evacuate their bases and help prevent North Korean troops from crossing the border. Separating North and South Korea is the DMZ or demilitarized zone. This is the DMZ between North and South Korea. You can see in the distance over there North Korea, just beyond the rock that juts out. Tilman Ruff was at the DMZ with ICAN — the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They were there to send a message of peace ahead of the Winter Olympics. He describes what the mood was like on the border. Stuff happens quite regularly. They’re shooting across the border. The week before and the week we were there, North Korean soldiers tried to defect and crossed the border. One of them was successful, one of them was severely injured by being shot repeatedly from the North Korean side. As soon as war erupts, you know there’s gonna be millions if not tens of millions of dead in South Korea. Seoul would be ablaze. Over 25 million people live in the Seoul metro area. The city itself is just 35 miles from the DMZ, and there are over 3,200 bomb shelters that can supposedly withstand an artillery attack… but not necessarily a nuclear or chemical attack. A single 250 kt nuclear bomb over Seoul would cause an estimated 783K deaths, and one over Tokyo would cause about 697K, according to a study by a group called 38 North. The people of Seoul, however, seem unfazed by the constant threat. 58 percent of South Koreans don’t think North Korea would actually start a war, according to a 2017 survey by Gallup Korea. “Ironically, living here makes me feel less threatened against [threats].” “[Nuclear weapons] may be used as a means of threat, but I don’t think they would actually use it to start a war.” Other potential targets in South Korea could include the port of Busan, the South Korean president’s home, the military base Yongsan Garrison, and Camp Humphreys. Once the nearby US defense is taken out, phase two would be to aim the nukes directly at the United States. This propaganda photo from 2013 shows a map of potential targets. These include Pacific Command in Hawaii; PACOM’s naval ports in San Diego; Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, which is home to the US Air Force’s Global Strike Command; and Washington, D.C. It would take about 30 minutes for a missile to reach the US, and 10-15 to hit Japan or South Korea. We wouldn’t know until it actually exploded whether it was a conventional warhead, a nuclear, or chemical, or biological warhead. So, how would the U.S. respond? Blair was a missile launch control officer with the U.S. Air Force. If Kim Jong Un launched a ballistic missile or more at the United States, we would detect the launch within a minute from satellites in space that have heat sensors. Early warning teams in Colorado and Omaha, Nebraska would receive this information as well as reports from ground radar in Alaska which could identify the path of a missile within 2 minutes of launch. And those crews in the United States would have about 3 minutes from the time they got the first sensor information until they are supposed to assess whether we are under attack. They alert the Pentagon of the threat, as well as Strategic Command, who would initiate an emergency teleconference with the president and his advisors, including the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Advisor. A 4-star general at Strategic Command would brief the president on the threat and his options. He has probably on average about 6 minutes to deliberate and decide what to do. The War Room and the Pentagon would then challenge the president to authenticate using a special code known as the “biscuit.” A launch order would be sent to underground and submarine crews that includes the war plan and special authentication codes. I was one of them. It would have taken me 1 minute to carry out that launch order. It’s the length of a tweet. All in all, it could be 20 minutes before missiles are launched at North Korea. If North Korea launches their missile from a submarine – then the entire process needs to be twice as fast. The US has 44 missile interceptors stationed in California and Alaska, but it’s not a guaranteed defense. The odds are very low that a single missile could destroy a warhead. So we would have to launch a salvo of our missile interceptors to have any chance of destroying an incoming North Korean nuclear warhead. F-35 fighter jets could also be used to respond to and “kill” missiles early in the launch, but we don’t yet have this capability in the United States. North Korea may also fire off decoys to confuse our defenses, while the real nukes hit their targets. Millions of people could die if just one of these nukes hits a major city. While we have an alert system in place, and disaster relief with FEMA, there’s very little someone can do to protect themselves in this situation. All of the bomb shelters and other protection that we had during the Cold War have all atrophied and basically been shut down. So we’re starting all over again almost. North Korea has no missile defense, so the U.S. could very easily wipe out most of the country with its own nukes. But we are more likely to use non-nuclear options to stop them. We’d win a conventional war. We don’t need nuclear weapons. The US would target its nuclear reactors, missile-production facilities, and launching pads for intercontinental ballistic missiles with stealth aircraft, submarines, and ships. There are estimates of about 200 launchers spread around North Korea. The U.S. would also try to take out Kim Jong Un, who would likely be moved to a bunker soon after a U.S airstrike. With or without nuclear weapons, I don’t think Kim gets out of this alive. How would other countries respond? Japan and South Korea both have ground-based missile defense systems But those defenses, you know they don’t really have a great operational record. China’s involvement would likely depend on who strikes first. China would almost certainly come to the defense of North Korea if the United States attacks first. It’s also indicated to North Korea, that if North Korea attacks first, it’s on its own. In the case of Russia, I think it would more or less stand pat. While a nuclear war would be devastating, it’s a real possibility. I think that the odds are very significant that in the next 25 years, nuclear weapons will be used. The Nobel Peace prize winning group ICAN is working on a treaty to end nuclear proliferation. I think the more promising approach is really a global one. That doesn’t say nuclear weapons are okay for me but not for you. You better get rid of yours. But that says nuclear weapons are not okay for everybody. Blair’s group, Global Zero, is working towards the same goal. We have to get rid of nuclear weapons. It’s the only solution.

67 thoughts on “What Would Happen If North Korea Launched A Nuclear Weapon

  1. If North Korea launched a nuclear attack all the media would cover only that leaving China free during the news blackout
    to crush the people in Hong Kong and carry off thousands to the mainland.

  2. You can expect North Korea to attack the south around change of Either south or us election South Korea will fall one day due to it’s naive thinking disposition that every body can get alone “not” about the world states, perfectly examples trade troubles with japan South Korea should have been ready out all what japan did to South Korea they’ll put all theirs eggs in one baskets with japan. Instead of promoting Kpop and kimchee they should be strapping on Nukes weapon.

  3. they have enough power to destroy American cities and people and it's still going on with their tests

  4. One thing that i can't understand is where does north korea get money and resources for all this? They don't have proper electricity and yet they manage to make nukes… How?

  5. LOLOLOLOL!!! "It takes 30 minutes for the missile to go from North Korea to America…." so in that time they're going to detect the path of the missile in Colorado, inform the Pentagon, who will then contact the President, who then needs to decide what to do, inform the Pentagon of his decision, and they then need to inform the necessary parties what to do, blah blah blah. F_ck that! Can you say KABOOM? We saw how badly the whole "chain of command" thing failed on 9/11.

    The way this is going to work is that when the missile's path is confirmed in Colorado/Alaska/wherever, THOSE people already KNOW what the response is (pre-authorized by the President) and they take IMMEDIATE action to counter the threat . No Pentagon. No President. No communication back and forth. Only immediate counter-measures.

    If the pre-defined counter action is to fire nukes at targets in North Korea, that action would be taken right away. I would also think the military would contact the people in the flight path of the missile to take measures to protect themselves. ie: Get to your bunker, get out if you can, etc… That's all the time you have in a crisis like this.

    You can INFORM the Pentagon of what is happening, but not to ask their permission. It has to be as basic as: "they fired something at us, we are authorized to shoot back and are doing so."

  6. I absolutely love the way Trump handled rocket man. Worked didn't it. Media and Democrats hate it. Kind of quite over there now .

  7. yeah but by time North Korea launch their missiles to the USA, you do not got time to plan or do anything before the missiles reach and burst over USA.

  8. If they shot down a missile, just for
    me. I'd need prove that it happened. Best info says, anti missile, missiles still aren't fool
    Proof. So, don't worry, they've
    got a ways to go yet. And here's
    Serious thought, nuking north
    Korea will put deadly amounts
    Of silica in the world's food supply.
    So, most likely you'll die of poisonous food. Sweet dreams
    Everybody.

  9. I said let's start this nuclear party now. It will not be North Korea fault but US threatening with military excercises all the time. Someone's threatening the world and it's not North Korea but the bellic military excercises that keep putting allies in dangerous situations.

  10. I wish we’d drop a 10 megaton bomb right in the middle of pongyang I know there are a lot of civilians but maybe we could drive them out. If not than un identified enemy combatants it is

  11. That foolish odd looking kim whatever knows he fires his rockets at nato or america and his life is pretty much over, not to mention theres a high possibility of a mass extinction event taking place in his country caused by state of the art western nuclear weapons.

  12. A# CONGRATULATIONS TESTING KIM J UN +

    KEEP YOUR'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND MISSIL'S TESTING +
    REMEMBER THE PAST + APOCALYPSE TO DAY +

    DONT BELIEVE ANYTHING TO UNITED AMERICAN + ALLIENCE'S +
    NO MERCY THEM +

    STAY ALERT READY ATOMIC BOMB'S + MISSIL'S SENDING TO UNITED AMERICAN CAN* ALLIENCE'S +

    PASS MESSAGE TO OTHERS COUNTRY'S ARMYS +

    AMMENN SUMA AMMENN + CEC +

  13. I hate how people in the comments are treating America like a god, and spitting on nk, North Korea is not a joke, and America isn't so great.

  14. I don't think any would get half way to Hawaii. WE have lasers now that have been used and have been successful.

  15. REBEL!!! the west knows your suffering we know it! The west wants to help not take over. China Russia and other countries will defend you. Get rid of this brutal HITLER!!! Help yourselves and the west will be there to help not overthrow.

  16. I guess I upset a yank,,look wanky yanky,..your country pulled out of treaty's. That kept the world safe..you have got war mongers in power,..ie..J Bolton…and trump

  17. Nuclear Weapons should never be used as a first attack. Lives of all people should be considered. If one nuke is launched ….others will follow. NOBODY wins#! If you want to destroy yourself and every other life forms on the earth….fire one. Not SMART.

  18. Oh please don't nuke San Francisco, Kim Jung Un. It would really break our hearts if you dropped nukes on that town, it really would! Also don't nuke Portland, Seattle, LA, and San Diego. It would be so devastating to all of us here in America.

  19. me god :i too have a nuclear button,but it is a much bigger&more poweful one ماذا لو انفجرت جميع القنابل النووية دفعة واحدة !https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rw3ZG342Mo

  20. While it may never happen; if they were stupid enough to do such a thing, the US would simply have to obliterate them. If they nuked Hawaii or any American city, I can't imagine any other country on earth blaming us for simply turning North Korea into an inferno. Sad for the South Koreans, and too bad for the non-entity cities at that border – but who could possibly blame us for retaliation?

  21. North Korea : Raunch Run Nuke !
    : hits south korea 100s of thousands dead:
    : 50 nukes launched at north korea :
    See why this won't happen?

  22. N Korea does not have enough to survive if they started. It would be easy to take out a part of a peninsula right on the coast.

  23. Please watch Binkov Battlegrounds video regarding this, in reference to artillery strikes on south korea, and reconsider.

  24. THIS IS BS. President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un shook hands during a historic meeting Sunday at the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean peninsula

  25. The hawk liberal media, trying to instill fear with experts that are wrong more often than right. I have heard this every time some so called analyst gives his opinion. I refuse to live my life in fear of what may or may not happen.

  26. North korea or china or russia will never launched any missile nuclear or convensional. These communist bastards are just bullying the western leaders.

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