- The DPRK has successfully tested fission devices.
- The DPRK claims to have fusion devices working, though blast yield (seismic activity levels, I think) bring that claim into question.
- The DPRK appears to be well on the way to miniaturization for fitting devices onto missiles. They have shown what appear to be models, if not actual devices, of the right size to mount on missiles.
- The DPRK has now tested first strike capable solid fuel boosters from their track mounted carriers (12 Feb 17), during the visit of Japan's leader to the USA. Though the test was on a short range SLBM-based rocket, the solid fuel technology bridge has clearly been crossed and is directly usable on long range rockets.
- It appears that Anchorage, AK, is within range (under 6000 km) of current DPRK technology. And the DPRK tested an orbital booster on 18 Sep 2016 which brings every location in the USA within range. For example, see this Space.COM article.
- The DPRK has successfully tested SLBM capability, helping to bring every coastal city in the USA within range of those platforms.
The DPRK's co-development activities with Iran is an irritant that makes their capability all the more dangerous.
Several countries already have passed all of these steps and are well known as adversaries (threats) to the USA, including Russia and China. And the USA is positioned the same way against them. What is the difference?
- All of those countries have societies and infrastructures that I believe they value. They have something to lose. In the words of Sting, "Do the Russians love their children, too".
- All of those countries have leadership that appears to both be stable and acting within the bounds of reason and under some control of a larger governmental body.
- All of those countries are currently NOT in a state of war.
None of these mitigating factors apply to the DPRK. Their hereditary leader, very much Saddam Hussein of Iraq with his WMD's gambit, appears to want to be seen as ready, willing, and able to conduct a first strike on the USA. Only in the case of the DPRK the evidence of the reality of the claims and threats seems unequivocal.
The DPRK continues to assassinate people around the world, and continue to run internal purges (murders). They lack respect for human life and for international norms of behavior. Essentially we are under the gun of a mad man.
The strike has to destroy both the political leadership in the DPRK and all of the DPRK's army elements capable of retaliation. So the strike has to be massive. It has to destroy not only the ICBM retaliation capability, but the ability to strike South Korea in retaliation. And it might need to be followed by a land invasion to prevent a massive conventional response. Though I doubt the remaining elements of the DPRK army will want to counter attack after the massive strike.
Perhaps waiting until the THAAD system is operational in South Korea makes some sense. Taking out 100% of the DPRK's missile capacity seems improbable.
I believe that the situation is untenable. Since I value all US cities and lives above those of any in the DPRK, why is this NOT the time to act?