ANALYSIS: The Asian Missile Race: Could They Really Kick Our Asses In a Fight?

Tension in the Asian continent continues to build as North Korea pursues their buildup of a nuclear arsenal. As a byproduct of this dangerous endeavor, President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un recently traded a war of words about whose “button” was bigger, prompting Democrats in Congress to go so far as to propose legislation which would require President Trump to get Congressional approval prior to ordering a nuclear strike. With the mainstream media focused on the back and forth between the U.S. and North Korea, they have overlooked the current missile race China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea are engaged in.

The main agitator in all of this is North Korea with their longstanding hatred of South Korea and their declared desire to destroy all their enemies including South Korea and the United States. However, the despotic communist regime led by Kim Jong-un is not the only catalyst in this Shakespearean play for the pursuit of the most destructive missiles. There are the deep seeded tensions between China and Taiwan and the competition which exists between Japan and China with one constantly trying to out perform the other.

Kim Jong-un’s Grandfather, Kim II Sung, started North Korea’s journey to develop long- range missiles which would one day be nuclear capable. Further demonstrating their danger to the world, it is believed that North Korea has or is at the very least developing biological and chemical weapons in conjunction with their proliferation of a nuclear arsenal. Kim II wanted to have a vast missile arsenal as a standing threat against the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Within North Korea’s missile arsenal they have the Hwasong-6, which is a short-range ballistic missile capable of hitting South Korea, certain parts of Russia, and China. Then there is the No Dong missile which is a better version of the Hwasong-6, and is capable of hitting anywhere in Japan and can go as far as Russia and China. The most concerning missile in North Korea’s arsenal is the Hwasong-12, which was successfully tested three times in 2017, and has the capability of hitting U.S. targets in Guam. Not content with a land based missile arsenal, North Korea is currently developing missiles which can be launched from a submarine, and are nuclear capable.

South Korea along with U.S. intelligence agencies continually keeps close tabs on North Korea’s development of weapons, especially those with nuclear capability. South Korea has implemented retaliatory plans for North Korea, should the communist nation decide to invade or otherwise carry out an attack on the South. South Korea has long standing contingency plans in place should North Korea decide to attack. South Korea has three different missile systems. The first, which is the German made Taurus Air Launched Cruise Missile is delivered via South Korea’s F-15K fighter planes. The second is the Hyunmoo-3 land attack cruise missile with a range varying between 310 miles and 620 miles depending on the target. The third is the Hyunmoo-2B, which can be fired from the back of a truck and has a maximum effective range of 497 miles. These missiles, which South Korea are a significant deterrent against North Korea.

China’s development of ballistic missiles and nuclear capability has been going on for a very long time, and the Chinese are not shy about demonstrating what nuclear and military capability they have. China continues to have aggressive border disputes with Japan in the East China Sea, and China’s DF-21 missile can hit targets in Ho Chi Minh City, the Philippines, anywhere in Taiwan, Japan, and potential targets in North and South Korea. The Chinese also have a missile called the DF-26 which has a longer range and is capable of hitting American air and naval bases in Guam. However, with the Trump administration working hard to develop fair economic trade deals with the Chinese, it is unlikely that they would use their missile arsenal to strike U.S. interests. More likely, the Chinese, under pressure from President Trump, might be more inclined to hit targets in North Korea, as China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner and influence in the Asian region.

The decades-old feud between Taiwan and Mainland China has led to the Taiwanese people to develop a missile arsenal strong enough to prevent the Chinese from carrying out an invasion. Though technically Taiwan is considered part of China, many of the Taiwanese youth, and their government see things differently, and look upon the government in Mainland China with disdain and hatred. In an effort to establish independence of a sort, the Taiwanese have developed and stocked the Hsuing Feng, otherwise known as the “Brave Wind” missile, which is capable of carrying a 400 pound warhead and has a range of 372 miles, long enough and powerful enough to make the Chinese think twice before taking military action.

Lastly, there is Japan, a U.S. ally both in terms of economic trade and military hardware. Generally, Japan has always attempted to stay away from the Asian missile race, but with North Korea seemingly on a path of destruction, the Japanese government is not taking any chances, and they have made plans to purchase the Norwegian/U.S. Joint Strike Missile (JSM), and the American Joint Air-to-Surface missiles’ (JASSM-ER), with both systems having the capability to hit targets in North Korea.

The tension which exists in the Asian region may improve as President Trump continues to create an economic coalition against North Korea while calling out countries like China for violating UN trade sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel Rye Song Gang 1 conducts a ship-to-ship transfer on Oct. 19.Source: U.S. Department of The Treasury

U.S. intelligence satellites recently caught Chinese ships providing oil to North Korean ships offshore, a clear violation of UN sanctions against North Korea, and the pictures of the offending vessels were widely published on the Internet. China’s violation of these sanctions did not go unnoticed by President Trump, and he will likely use this as an additional bargaining chip against the Chinese and North Korea. President Trump and his administration have also made it very clear in numerous statements that they continue to exhaust all diplomatic solutions to stopping the North Korean threat but are prepared to use force if necessary.

H/T [Popular Mechanics]

 

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