Thursday, April 23, 2015

Say, Here's a Happy Thought For You

North Korea may have more capacity to build nuclear warheads than we previously believed. Could North Korea sell Iran nuclear missiles and allow Iran to actually base them in North Korea?

Aside from the caution on basing our security on flawed estimates of how much Uranium Iran can enrich, this news about North Korea is disturbing:

China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production well beyond most previous U.S. figures, suggesting Pyongyang can make enough warheads to threaten regional security for the U.S. and its allies.

The latest Chinese estimates, relayed in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists, showed that North Korea may already have 20 warheads, as well as the capability of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, according to people briefed on the matter.

I've long worried that Iran might bridge that breakout time gap when Iran would be vulnerable to an air campaign to destroy their nuclear facilities by importing nuclear missiles from North Korea (see here for one post) to be a deterrent against attack. I'll sleep well tonight, eh?

An increase in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal feeds international concern about proliferation from a country that, U.S. officials said, previously exported nuclear technology to Syria and missile components to Iran, Yemen and Egypt.

I've wondered if Iran could run the gauntlet to pick up nukes and bring them back to Iran.

But look at the range of North Korea's missiles under development.

I've long worried that a nuclear deal with Iran will fail to consider that Iran is likely outsourcing some parts of their nuclear program. But what if I'm thinking small?

What if North Korea sells Iran nuclear missiles and rents the facilities in North Korea to launch them?

From North Korea, these missiles could reach Europe, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and a number of targets in America. So Iran doesn't need to have the missiles inside Iran, really.

Consider that Iranian missiles fired from North Korea would offer advantages for Iran.

Missile defenses in the Middle East and Europe are designed to handle relatively short range missiles fired from Iran. Those missile defenses cannot handle the longer-ranged ICBMs that will plummet to their targets at a speed too high for those systems to handle.

Yes, our West Coast national missile defenses designed to handle missiles launched from North Korea could protect our cities from a limited number of missile launches.

North Korea surely wouldn't mind if we used up our anti-missiles on Iranian missiles, eh?

And maybe combat use would expose weaknesses that North Korea could exploit.

We'd also face greater risks in attacking Iranian nukes inside North Korea given that North Korea's nukes could deter our attacks on North Korean soil.

Eventually, Iran would want their nukes on their soil. But a fully functioning Iranian nuclear deterrent in North Korea would buy Iran the time it needs to build their own nuclear warheads from resources inside Iran.

Perhaps a decade-long deal with America over Iran's nuclear programs provides Iran and North Korea the time they need to put these pieces in place.

Hey, have an even more super sparkly day.

UPDATE: Here's a fun refinement. If Iran uses one of their nuclear missiles and we send in CSI: Nukes to identify the signature of the Uranium used in the warhead in order to find and punish the evil doer, wouldn't it be quite the water muddier if we identified the Uranium as coming from American mines?

No worries. What are the odds that the Russians could control American Uranium sources (tip to Instapundit) let alone skim some off to pass on the the North Koreans for their Iran contract?

UPDATE: But no worries! These theoretical (and other less fanciful but more actual) problems fail to imagine that Iran will be a friend in a decade, thus mooting any problems, as Kerry clicks his heels, waves his magical hope and change wand over Iran's mullahs, and declares "There's no place like Geneva!" to make the mullahs' hearts grow 3 times that day (As Marie Harf is wont to say)!

Reset Day is within our grasp!

Hey. No editor here. I'm free to start with Wizard of Oz and finish with the Grinch.