41 thoughts on “Nukes, novices, what could go wrong?

    • Playing with fire says:

      “The Testosterone-Fueled Presidency : Just look at what can happen when Trump feels his “masculinity” is threatened.” http://billmoyers.com/story/testosterone-fueled-presidency/
      Interactive NUKEMAP by Alex Wellerstein https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ 1. Select whatever target you’d like to vaporize 2. Enter a yield in Kilotons or select a weapon from the inventory (up to 100 Megatons). 3. Select height of explosion; data for causalities and radioactive fallout. 4.Press red button marked ‘Detonate’.

    • Kablooey says:

      “Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did not mince words following President Donald Trump’s remarks at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night. “I found this downright scary and disturbing,” the former director of national intelligence said on CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/politics/james-clapper-trump-phoenix-rally-don-lemon-cnntv/index.html
      “I worry about frankly the access to nuclear codes. In a fit of pique, if he decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there’s actually very little to stop him,” he said, referring to the threats Trump made to the North Korean dictator this month.
      “The whole system is built to ensure a rapid response if necessary,” Clapper added. “So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.”

      • Addendum says:

        Donald J. Trump‏ [AKA: The President of The United States of America] @realDonaldTrump 6:15 AM – 24 Aug 2017: “James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress, is now an authority on Donald Trump. Will he show you his beautiful letter to me?”
        In an interview, Clapper told CNN about the “beautiful letter.” http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/24/politics/james-clapper-beautiful-letter-trump/index.html
        “The night before the election, we [presumably the Office of the Director of National Intelligence] deployed two teams so that we would be ready to provide a PDB brief the next morning to whomever won,” Clapper recounted, referring to the Presidential Daily Briefing. “I hand-wrote almost identical short notes to each of the two candidates to accompany the first brief as President-elect; only one actually got deployed — the one to him.”
        The note to Clinton, which went undelivered, congratulated her on her victory and said the intelligence community stood by to serve her with the best intelligence it could muster. The note to Trump said the same thing.
        “I went on to say that I hoped he would abide by the long-standing principle of the IC always telling ‘truth to power,'” Clapper told CNN, noting that he was paraphrasing since he doesn’t have a copy of the note. “IC” is shorthand for intelligence community.
        On January 6, leaders of the intelligence community traveled to Trump Tower in New York City to brief then-President-elect Trump on the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the election. Clapper remembers Trump specifically thanking him for the note three times.

  1. Boum says:

    “Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/department-of-energy-risks-michael-lewis
    “Donald Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, once campaigned to abolish the $30 billion agency that he now runs, which oversees everything from our nuclear arsenal to the electrical grid. The department’s budget is now on the chopping block. But does anyone in the White House really understand what the Department of Energy actually does? And what a horrible risk it would be to ignore its extraordinary, life-or-death responsibilities?”

  2. Duck&Cover says:

    “Trump Tweets as North Korea Threatens the U.S. over New Sanctions” (Vanity Fair August 8, 2017) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/donald-trump-north-korea-sanctions
    Meanwhile, according to GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, “There is a military option to destroy North Korea’s (missile) program and North Korea itself (and) If there’s going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there, they’re not going to die here and (President Donald Trump) told me that to my face.”
    “We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” Trump said after a reporter asked him about his strategy. (CNN 8/1/17) http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/01/politics/lindsey-graham-north-korea-donald-trump-white-house/index.html
    Re: UNSCR 2371 see http://www.38north.org/2017/08/rnephew080717/

    • Countdown says:

      August 8th, 2017: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/world/asia/north-korea-un-sanctions-nuclear-missile-united-nations.html The president’s comments came as North Korea earlier in the day escalated its criticism of the United States, as well as its neighboring allies, by warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation against the latest round of United Nations sanctions.

  3. Romans 13:1 says:

    Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
    “When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/08/god-has-given-trump-authority-to-take-out-kim-jong-un-evangelical-adviser-says/

    • Oscar G. says:

      “Trump predicts ‘tenfold’ boost in tourism for Guam amid threats by North Korea” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/08/11/trump-predicts-tourism-spike-for-guam-in-wake-of-n-korea-threat-reassures-islands-governor/#comments
      …Early Saturday, the White House released an official readout of the call that was far more staid. In its entirety, it read: “President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo. President Trump reassured Governor Calvo and our fellow Americans on Guam that United States forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam, along with the rest of America. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke separately to Governor Calvo earlier in the day.”
      Elsewhere: “In an editorial on Saturday, North Korea’s [state-run] Minju Joson newspaper said that the U.S. “finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. This is tragicomedy of its own making.” The paper said, “The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack.” It continued, “If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom in its tenure, they had better talk and act properly.” https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/08/12/us/politics/ap-north-korea-nuclear-the-latest.html

      • 孙子 says:

        “North Korea’s ICBM tests may be a deception tactic to hide a much more capable threat”
        http://www.businessinsider.com/north-koreas-icbm-tests-a-possible-deception-tactic-2017-8 See also http://breakingdefense.com/2017/07/was-north-koreas-july-4th-surprise-a-mobile-launched-icbm/
        Re: Paektusan army of the DPRK, “North Korea appropriates the mythology of Paektu Mountain in its propaganda and uses it like a brand-name, for example with the Paektusan rocket and the Paektusan computer. The peak is featured on the Emblem of North Korea, defined in Article 169 of the Constitution, which describes Mt Paektu as “the sacred mountain of the revolution”. The mountain is often referred to in slogans such as: “Let us accomplish the Korean revolution in the revolutionary spirit of Paektu, the spirit of the blizzards of Paektu!” North Korean media even celebrates portentous natural phenomenon witnessed at the mountain.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paektu_Mountain
        Video: “Kim Jong Un by a ICBM launch 4 July 2017” https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=CsZd354WygU

        • Nightmare fuel says:

          “North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say” (NYT Aug 14, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/world/asia/north-korea-missiles-ukraine-factory.html “Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet. The engines were so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents.
          Those engines were linked to only a few former Soviet sites. Government investigators and experts have focused their inquiries on a missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, on the edge of the territory where Russia is fighting a low-level war to break off part of Ukraine. During the Cold War, the factory made the deadliest missiles in the Soviet arsenal, including the giant SS-18. It remained one of Russia’s primary producers of missiles even after Ukraine gained independence.
          But since Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was removed from power in 2014, the state-owned factory, known as Yuzhmash, has fallen on hard times. The Russians canceled upgrades of their nuclear fleet. The factory is underused, awash in unpaid bills and low morale. Experts believe it is the most likely source of the engines that in July powered the two ICBM tests, which were the first to suggest that North Korea has the range, if not necessarily the accuracy or warhead technology, to threaten American cities.
          “It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine — probably illicitly,” Mr. Elleman said in an interview. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”

    • Noob-Noob says:

      “It takes just one madman to press the button. We have two” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/12/takes-just-one-madman-to-press-button-we-have-two “…the leaders of North Korea and the US are throwbacks. No one in North Korea can check Kim Jong-un – he is a hangover from the age of the dictators. Trump, by contrast, is checked everywhere. His repeal of Obamacare failed. His tax reform will fail. Now the North Koreans defy him. But beware leaving a narcissistic, know-nothing, fantasist in possession of the nuclear codes when he fears he is becoming ridiculous. He may want to save face and prove his manhood.
      It is not irrational to fear what he will do next. Look at where we are. Look at what we accept. It’s normal for the senior officials of the president of the United States to try to stop a shooting war by stopping their commander in chief shooting his mouth off. According to reports that have not been denied, it is now normal for the secretary of defence and the chief of staff to co-ordinate their travel plans so that one of them is always in the US. They have joint custody of a baby that can never be left home alone.”

  4. Beddy Bye says:

    “The nuclear football is a lot like a Denny’s menu” (CNN 8/23/17) http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/politics/nuclear-football-garrett-graff/index.html “Clapper said that he worries that “in a fit of pique, [Trump] decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there’s actually very little to stop him.” How accurate is that?
    Garrett Graff (author of “Raven Rock: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself — While the Rest of Us Die.”) : It’s entirely accurate — at least once a launch order is given.
    Obviously, the aides around the President could try to talk him out of it, if they disagreed with it, but our entire system is geared towards establishing whether a launch order is “valid” only insofar as whether it’s actually coming from the President of the United States. There’s a classified system of code words that communicate between the President and the person executing the launch order — either at the Pentagon or the mountain bunker in Pennsylvania, Raven Rock, that serves as the alternate Pentagon — that the person on the other end of the phone is the actual legitimate commander in chief. But, there’s no check or balance in the system about whether it’s “valid” to start a nuclear war. There’s no second voice, like the defense secretary or chairman of Joint Chiefs, that has to OK a launch.
    As bonkers as that may seem, it’s a procedure that dates back to the Cold War, when we faced the Soviet Union with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert. A president would have only about 15 minutes to respond to an attack — perhaps even less — so we devoted literally billions of dollars to building a system that could transmit a launch order as quickly as possible.”
    “…The (Nuclear) Football is actually full of binders and plans for war, so that a President can flip through it and decide what kind of nuclear war he wants to launch — then he communicates that order to the Pentagon or Raven Rock, where it’s promptly executed. There’s a visual guide as part of the Football that one military aide referred to as the “Denny’s Menu” of nuclear war. But other aides have darkly joked there are really just three options: Rare, Medium and Well-Done.”
    See also “About that “nuclear football” selfie at Mar-a-Lago” http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/14/about-that-nuclear-football-and-the-selfie-at-mar-a-lago/

  5. 양키 says:

    “Armchair experts on North Korea – and a fair few who watch from their desks too – like to write off Kim Jong Un as unpredictable. Who knows what this nuclear-armed madman might do next, the refrain goes.
    U.S. warplanes conducted a bombing drill Thursday close to the border that separates the two Koreas, as if to intimidate the hard-to-read leader.
    But anyone who’s surprised by the last month’s events – from North Korea’s threat to fire missiles close to Guam, to the actual launch of a missile over Japan – hasn’t been paying attention.
    For Pyongyang’s actions have been clearly telegraphed.”
    (Washington Post 8/31/17) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/dont-be-surprised-by-north-koreas-missiles-theyre-doing-what-they-said-they-would/2017/08/31/e2fb9ebc-8e26-11e7-a2b0-e68cbf0b1f19_story.html

  6. Vasili Arkhipov says:

    (9/1/17): President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that the standoff between North Korea and the United States was close to spilling into a large-scale conflict and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang into halting its nuclear missile program.
    Putin, due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations in China next week, said the only way to de-escalate tensions was via talks, and Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, said Washington not Pyongyang should take the initiative on that.
    The Russian leader, whose nuclear-capable bombers recently overflew the Korean Peninsula in a show of force, said the situation had deteriorated so badly that it was now “balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict.” http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-putin/putin-warns-north-korea-situation-on-verge-of-large-scale-conflict-idUSKCN1BC470

  7. Upping the ante says:

    “North Korea ‘has missile-ready nuclear weapon'” (BBC Sept 2, 2017) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41138834 “The North has previously claimed to have miniaturized a nuclear weapon but experts have cast doubt on this. There is also skepticism about the North’s claims to have developed a hydrogen bomb, which is more powerful than an atomic bomb.
    Hydrogen bombs use fusion – the merging of atoms – to unleash huge amounts of energy, whereas atomic bombs use nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms.”
    Meanwhile Trump has agreed to sell South Korea arms worth billions of dollars and approved a review of a joint treaty with South Korea that places a cap on the development of its ballistic missiles – meaning the strike distance and size of the force of those weapons could be increased beyond the current limit of 500kg warheads on 800km-range missiles.
    North and South Korea technically remain at war since a truce agreed to end the 1950-1953 Korean War was never followed by a peace agreement.

  8. Update says:

    “North Korea appears to have conducted another nuclear test, the South Korean government said Sunday after seismic authorities detected an artificial earthquake near Pyongyang regime’s known nuclear test site.” (Washington Post September 3 at 12:42 AM) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-apparently-conducts-another-nuclear-test-south-korea-says/2017/09/03/7bce3ff6-905b-11e7-8df5-c2e5cf46c1e2_story.html
    “The U.S Geological Survey said it had recorded a 6.3 magnitude earthquake exactly at noon Sunday local time, near North Korea’s known nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in the county’s northeast region. The quake was felt in northern China, with emergency sirens blaring in Yanji, near the North Korean border, according to local media.”

  9. Borrowed Time says:

    The apocalypse will be televised, and it will be presented by a 74 year old North Korean woman clad in pink announcing the news at a near scream. https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2017/sep/04/north-koreas-pink-lady-the-newscaster-set-to-announce-the-end-of-the-world
    Meanwhile, “Amid international uproar over North Korea’s latest and biggest nuclear weapons test, one of its top diplomats said on Tuesday it was ready to send “more gift packages” to the United States.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-envoy/north-korea-warns-of-more-gift-packages-for-u-s-idUSKCN1BG1BT
    “The North Korean chessboard: What next for the main players?” (Washington Post September 5 at 1:00 AM) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/05/the-north-korean-chessboard-what-next-for-the-main-players/ “China has been cornered, I’m afraid of what we are facing now, we are at the stage of a showdown.” Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing.

  10. Badaboom says:

    Trump’s zigzagging approach to North Korea veers toward military options (Washington Post) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-zigzagging-approach-to-north-korea-veers-toward-military-options/2017/09/06/44763718-9315-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html
    Trump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea (The Hill) http://thehill.com/policy/defense/349526-trump-administration-briefs-congress-on-north-korea
    Trump Admin. Seeks U.N. Authorization to Use Military Force Against North Korean Smuggling Vessels (Foreign Policy Magazine) https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-administration-seeks-un-authorization-193332707.html

  11. Carl Jenkins says:

    “Why Kim Jong Un wouldn’t be irrational to use a nuclear bomb first : The nuclear strategy of weaker powers” By Vipin Narang (an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specializing in nuclear proliferation and strategy) Washington Post 9/8/17 https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/why-kim-jong-un-wouldnt-be-irrational-to-use-a-nuclear-bomb-first/2017/09/08/a9d36ca4-934f-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html See also Deterrence theory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deterrence_theory

  12. Stay tuned says:

    “North Korea launches missile over Japan – live updates” (Thursday 14 September 2017 19.07 EDT) https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/sep/15/north-korea-launches-missile-over-japan-live-updates
    “South Korean delegation asks Washington for nuclear weapons” (September 14 at 2:54 PM) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/09/14/a-south-korean-delegation-asks-washington-for-nuclear-weapons/
    “When the U.S. Almost Went to War With North Korea : In 1976, North Korean soldiers hacked two American troops to death over a poplar tree. 40 years later, it’s worth remembering how it all went down.” (9/14/17) http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/14/north-korea-1976-axe-murder-incident-215605
    Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America’s Twitter account @realDonaldTrump https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump

  13. Borrowed time says:

    “The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea : On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation?” (New Yorker Magazine September 18, 2017 Issue) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/the-risk-of-nuclear-war-with-north-korea
    President Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump 5:53 AM – Sep 17, 2017 “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”

  14. Psalm 11:6 says:

    In U.N. speech, Trump calls Kim Jong Un the ‘Rocket Man’ and threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/09/19/in-u-n-speech-trump-warns-that-the-world-faces-great-peril-from-rogue-regimes-in-north-korea-iran/ “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself. Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
    Just to be clear: The president of the United States has announced to the world that we’re prepared to totally destroy a country with a population of 25 million people.

  15. Strontium-90 says:

    “Detonating a nuclear-tipped missile over the Pacific Ocean would be a logical final step by North Korea to prove the success of its weapons program but would be extremely provocative and carry huge risks, arms control experts said on Friday.
    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested leader Kim Jong Un was considering testing “an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb” over the Pacific in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat at the United Nations to “totally destroy” the country.
    “It may mean North Korea will fire a warhead-tipped (intermediate range) Hwasong-12 or Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile and blow it up a few hundred kilometers above the Pacific Ocean,” said Yang Uk, a senior researcher at the Korea Defence and Security Forum in Seoul.
    “They may be bluffing, but there is a need for them to test their combined missile-bomb capability. They could have already prepared the plan and are now trying to use Trump’s remarks as an excuse to make it happen,” said Yang.
    Such an atmospheric test would be the first globally since China detonated a device in 1980, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-atmospheric-test/a-north-korea-nuclear-test-over-the-pacific-logical-terrifying-idUSKCN1BX0W5

  16. Footnote says:

    “In late October [1969], Nixon ordered an operation code-named Giant Lance. B-52 bombers loaded with atomic weapons took off from bases in California and Washington State and headed toward the Soviet Union, then flew in loops above the polar ice cap. Nixon’s hope was that Soviet intelligence would interpret the action as an immediate, and utterly insane, threat of nuclear attack. The “madman nuclear alert,” as the political scientist Scott D. Sagan and the historian Jeremi Suri called it in a 2003 article, remained secret for years.” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/02/the-madman-theory-of-north-korea
    “The Madman Nuclear Alert : Secrecy, Signaling, and Safety in October 1969” (.pdf) https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/files/publication/sagan_and_suri_spring_2003.pdf

  17. WTF says:

    A top CIA official for the Korean Peninsula warned Wednesday that the U.S. should be ready for a new provocation by North Korea on Columbus Day on Oct. 9, which coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the political party that governs in Pyongyang.
    “Stand by your phones,” Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, said while speaking at a conference organized by the agency at The George Washington University. https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-10-04/cia-official-predicts-north-korean-provocation-on-columbus-day
    Also: “North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a rational politician and the US needs to understand that to deal with the nuclear-armed country, a top Central Intelligence Agency Korea expert said Wednesday. “Beyond the bluster, Kim Jong-Un is a rational actor, we have a tendency in this country to underestimate his conservatism.” https://guardian.ng/news/north-koreas-kim-very-rational-says-cia/

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