Although the United States has a nuclear arsenal of about 4,000 warheads, it cannot win in a nuclear confrontation with North Korea, which is estimated to have no more than a dozen warheads. The reason: the price the United States would have to pay to “win” is simply too high.
North Korea has a population of approximately 25 million and an area of approximately 46,000 square miles. That means it has the population of Florida and the land area of Mississippi. The United States, by contrast, has 320 million people and an area of approximately 3.7 million square miles, making it the third-largest country in the world. At first glance, it would seem that a small country would never be a match for the United States.
However, these calculations are frustrated when the destructive effects of nuclear weapons are taken into account. According to most press reports, North Korea has at least a dozen nuclear warheads, the largest of which have yields in the 100 kiloton range (1). In contrast, the atomic bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were in the 12-15 kiloton range. Additionally, this country’s small Hwasong-15 missile has a range of 8,000 miles (2), which means that Honolulu and Los Angeles are within range. The total population of these two cities is approximately 14 million. Atomic warheads with a yield of 100 kilotons would kill most of them.
Kim Jong Un has so far shown that he is not intimidated by America’s massive military apparatus, including its arsenal of nuclear weapons. Apparently, he feels that his country needs nuclear weapons to protect itself, as do Israel, Pakistan and India. The United States says North Korea must “denuclearize” completely, not to mention similar arsenals held by the other three countries.
All is not lost, however. There is a way to ensure safety while greatly reducing your nuclear arsenal. Kim Jong Un could take the lead with this letter to the president:
The president of the United States
The White House
Dear Mr. Trump:
I am disappointed that our two meetings to date have not produced any worthwhile results. However, I am hopeful that we can still reach an agreement on the issue of nuclear weapons.
As you know, my country now has a considerable number of nuclear weapons, all of which are purely defensive in nature. In this sense, we are no different than Israel, Pakistan or India.
In order to reduce tensions between our two countries and promote world peace, I am ready to dismantle all but two Hwasong-15 rockets and two 100-kiloton warheads, an effort that can be verified by international inspectors. In return, I ask that the United States remove sanctions against North Korea and all American troops on the Korean peninsula.
Our two missiles will be mounted on transporter-erector-launchers that will move to new and undisclosed locations every day. The targets of these missiles will be the island of Oahu and the city of Los Angeles. As long as the United States and South Korea never attack my country, the missiles will never be used.
Kim jong un
Supreme Leader of North Korea
Well, Mr. Trump, what are you going to do? If you launch a “pre-emptive” attack on North Korea the way George W. Bush launched an attack on Iraq in 2003, 10 to 12 million Americans will die in two of our cities. You can safely “denuclearize” North Korea by dropping so many atomic bombs on the country that it will become a radioactive wasteland. The real question isAre you willing to pay the price?
1. “Summary of the nuclear test in North Korea on September 3, 2017”. NORSAR Seismic Observatory press release, Kjeller, Norway.
2. “North Korea Says New Missile Puts All of America in Attack Range”, BBC News, Asia Edition, November 29, 2017