Trump botches North Korea tweet
It started yesterday, when the publicity-hungry president-to-be took to Twitter to proclaim:
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
The comment comes in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who said Sunday that Pyongyang plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, according to The New York Times.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons, but has never flight-tested an ICBM.
Pyongyang has conducted five nuclear tests in the past decade and conducted more than 20 ballistic missile tests in 2016 alone, according to the Times report.
On Monday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) called on Trump to make North Korea a top priority when he assumes office this month.
And the compulsively tweeting reality show host seems not to have a full grasp of the facts:
Here’s a look at how close North Korea may already be to proving Trump’s tweet wrong:
There’s a general consensus that Pyongyang has made significant nuclear and missile progress under Kim, who took over after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in late 2011.
Some U.S. experts believe North Korea may have enough fuel for about 20 bombs and can add a possible half dozen more each year. …
Each new nuclear test… pushes the North another big step toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
Outsiders don’t know for sure whether North Korea can arm any of its ballistic missiles, regardless of range, with nuclear warheads yet.
But Siegfried Hecker, a leading North Korea nuclear expert, wrote after last year’s September nuclear test that outsiders should now assume that Pyongyang has “designed and demonstrated” atomic warheads that can be placed on short- and possibly medium-range missiles.
North Korea may deploy a “working, nuclear-tipped ballistic missile” by 2020, according to another expert, Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute.
North Korea has an arsenal of short-range Scuds and mid-range Rodong missiles, and some South Korean experts believe those can already be armed with nukes.
That would put in danger the roughly 28,000 U.S. forces in South Korea and another 50,000 in Japan.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Even if North Korea can fit a nuclear weapon on a missile, it has yet to meet the even greater challenge of building a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
Since 2012, North Korea has conducted three satellite launches using long-range rockets, in what outsiders consider covers for banned tests of ICBM technology.
As with the nuclear detonations, each new rocket test puts the North closer to having a nuclear missile that can target the U.S. mainland. Hecker estimates that it may take North Korea five to 10 years to succeed.
Needless to say, Twitter’s more well-informed denizens replied forcefully to The Donald:
.@realDonaldTrump Sweetie, this is the perfect example of something you save for your Presidenting meetings, not glib little tweets.
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) January 2, 2017
What is WRONG with you? Shut up. @realDonaldTrump
— Maritxu (@dislexicon) January 3, 2017
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) January 2, 2017
@realDonaldTrump pew pew pew!!! Blow the world up until America is great again! Love this guy.
— mikepencehere (@mikepencehere) January 3, 2017