Skip to comments.NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR THREAT / Japan must prepare for war between U.S., North Korea
Posted on 11/18/2007 11:49:37 PM PST by bruinbirdman
This is the sixth and final installment in our series focusing on North Korea's threat to Japan and future tasks for the nation's security policy.
The following is an "X-day" scenario that Japan might face in the near future.
On X-day, the Prime Minister's Office receives secret information from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It says: Contact has been observed between North Korean nuclear development officials and an Islamic terrorist organization. North Korea is possibly planning to sell nuclear weapons.
The prime minister immediately holds a meeting of the Security Council of Japan, and tells its members, "If it's proven that North Korea has sold nuclear weapons to terrorists, the United States will certainly launch an attack."
That means Japan will be a target of North Korean nuclear missiles.
Following North Korea's nuclear tests in October 2006, the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions succeeded in dismantling some of the country's nuclear facilities in Yongbyong and nearby areas in late 2007.
However, the United States then shifted its priority to dialogue with North Korea, and Pyongyang kept silent about the fate of the estimated 10 nuclear warheads that the country was believed to possess, and its plans to produce highly enriched uranium.
Five days after X-day, Japanese and U.S. defense officials hold a joint meeting in the central command center of the Defense Ministry on the third and fourth basement levels of its headquarters.
A U.S. officer explains: "On the first day of the war, U.S. forces will attack underground missile bases in Musudan, Kitaeryong and other locations using bunker-busters and other types of guided weapons. We'll be using 4,000 such weapons per day..."
A frustrated senior Self-Defense Forces officer interrupts and says: "That's five times the number used in the the Iraq war. But is it really enough to stop missile launches?"
North Korea has no missiles capable of directly hitting the U.S. mainland. The Rodong missiles that target Japan have a range of about 1,300 kilometers, and are transported on mobile launch pads. In addition, Rodong missiles have been modified to use solid fuel, which makes it difficult to detect advance signs of launch.
The SDF officer is worried.
Seven days after X-day, a press officer at the U.S. Defense Department shows the press photos of Rodong missiles mounted on trucks taken by a KH-11 reconnaissance satellite.
The officer condemns North Korea, saying the country should get rid of all its nuclear weapons immediately. The North Korean Foreign Ministry issues a counter-statement that says, "We'll rain thunder on the arrogant enemy who violates our sovereign rights as a nuclear power." The wording is a veiled threat that North Korea might use nuclear wapons.
The prime minister orders the SDF to stand by to defend the nation.
The Kongo, a Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis-class destroyer, is dispatched to the Sea of Japan with a U.S. aircraft carrier group, and conducts missile interception drills.
Though SM-3 antimissile missiles are extremely reliable, an Aegis destroyer can only carry a maximum of eight. And while most Rodong missiles are not nuclear-tipped, the MSDF possesses only 32 SM-3 missiles. It is unknown whether all the Rodong missiles flying toward Japan can be shot down.
If an incoming missile cannot be shot down with an SM-3, the next line of defense is a battery of PAC-3 ground-based antimissile missiles deployed at an SDF base in Ichigaya, Tokyo. Tasked with defending the capital, the PAC-3 missiles are set up to defend against missiles coming from the west.
Ten days after X-day, Al-Jazeera, a Middle Eastern broadcaster based in Qatar, begins airing a recording of an international terrorist leader made several days before. In it, the terrorist says, "I tell the U.S. government, we now have nuclear weapons."
Of course, this is fiction. But if terrorists do obtain nuclear weapons from North Korea, the United States will surely attack the country. This is the worst-case scenario for Japan.
Since Pyongyang's nuclear test in October last year, the Defense Ministry has been drawing up an action plan for the SDF regarding a possible nuclear crisis.
The plan envisages scenarios such as Kim Jong Il's death and an ensuing collapse of the regime; and North Korea's development of ballistic missiles capable of directly hitting the U.S. mainland.
Japan's goal is to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons through diplomatic means, such as the six-party talks and the defense alliance with the United States.
The reality, however, is that North Korea seems to be solidifying its status as a nuclear power, just as India and Pakistan did.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates once remarked that Northeast Asia is one of the last places on this planet where armed conflict involving nuclear weapons could occur.
Japan cannot escape from this grim reality, as the nation also has to face nuclear threats from China and Russia, not just North Korea.
The nuclear threats facing Japan are even graver than we tend to assume.
Thanks for the scenario stuff.
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