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North Korea Says War With South Would Go Nuclear 608

A reader writes "According to reports from the Uriminzokkiri, the official website of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a war with South Korea would involve nuclear weapons, and '[will] not be limited to the Korean peninsula.' The article goes on, 'The Korean peninsula remains a region fraught with the greatest danger of war in the world. This is entirely attributable to the US pursuance of the policy of aggression against the DPRK (North Korea).'"
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North Korea Says War With South Would Go Nuclear

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  • literally insane.

    Last I checked, the US could make all of the North's soil uninhabitable with just a handful of bombs.
    • They don't mean any of this seriously.

      They are just posturing so that the new leader can retain support of the old guard as power changes hands, and angling for more international aid money, food, etc. (so they can continue spending on edifices of adjective-Leader and rattletrap military "tech")
      • by spun ( 1352 )

        Good point. I don't think a lot of people realize that Kim Jong-il is in the process of handing off power to his son, Kim Jong-un.

        • by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:07PM (#34594234)
          I think a lot of people realize it, and realize the fact that it still doesn't entirely explain the fact that the DPRK appears to be heading on a course more warlike than they've been on in a long time.
          • Re:I'm sure they're (Score:5, Interesting)

            by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:43PM (#34594766)
            My hope is the ratcheting up of the posturing levels to new ridiculous heights during the handover could be to allow Kim Jong-Un to adopt a more moderate policy without completely collapsing his power base. A event-free handover followed by "Welp, guess we should stop our unsustainable policy of isolationism and get with the international program" would probably result in the generals ousting Un, whereas "Oh shit, Glorious Father went a little too far, better do something to avert invasion, right guys?", even if the outcome is the same, may go down better.

            Or I could be talking complete nonsense and am simple unaware of the magnitude of NK's regular levels of crazy.
      • Mod Up Please (Score:3, Insightful)

        by billstewart ( 78916 )

        When George Bush declared North Korea to be part of the "Axis of Evil", it was doing Kim Jong-Il a favor, making both Kim and Dubya sound like bad-asses that their populations should respect. Kim may be following in his family traditions of bat-shit insanity and sociopathic disrespect for the people he's ruler of, but he's still playing mostly for a local audience, and secondarily for other world leaders playing for their own local audiences.

        • Re:Mod Up Please (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:29PM (#34594546)

          I agree. a lot of this has to do with the power handover. From what you hear, Kim Jong Un is relatively incompetent (though not like we'd be able to get first hand sources from anyone) This sabre rattling (the boat attack, the shelling) has a lot to do with that.

          As far as the nuclear parking lot consequences, he's already let millions of his countrymen die over decades because of bad policy and outright killings. if you remove empathy for countrymen and you substitute needing to retain power, it makes NK's talk a lot less crazy. It's a calculated risk that he can bring the US to the table to extort more food and that they won't initiate a nuclear campaign (again).

          • Re:Mod Up Please (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @08:43PM (#34595450)

            Well, he damned sure won't retain power if he sets off a nuke. His regime's lifetime will be measured in minutes at that point.

            The only context in which it makes sense for the DPRK to threaten nuclear war is if they actually want to be taken over by a coalition of Chinese and South Korean forces. What else could it mean, when they adopt tactics and rhetoric that leave their neighbors no other responsible option?

      • I'm pretty sure they completely stand behind what they're saying. Its already well known that China has absolutely no interest in supporting N. Korea in a war against S. Korea and the US. This pretty much means that N. Korea is going to lose. And if N. Korea loses, I can promise you that we're not stopping our push at the DMZ. We're going to oust Kim Jong II for good. With the downfall of your empire and convictions of war crimes against you imminent, what do you think you would do, especially if you were

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I am not sure if this is true anymore or even if it were ever true; but I was told at the height of the cold war we had the capability to make the entire world uninhabitable in 8 seconds.

      • by cdrguru ( 88047 )

        But the actual uninhabitable part doesn't happen for a couple of hours after those very, very important 8 seconds.

        And that is assuming that (a) everything is launched that is supposed to, (b) it goes where it is supposed to, and (c) it goes BOOM when it is supposed to.

      • Re:I'm sure they're (Score:5, Informative)

        by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:07PM (#34594232)

        I am not sure if this is true anymore or even if it were ever true; but I was told at the height of the cold war we had the capability to make the entire world uninhabitable in 8 seconds.

        With what? Doctor Who technology? It takes tens of minutes just for ICBM-launched warheads to reach target. Bombers take hours. That's longer than eight seconds right there.

        And we know how powerful nuclear bombs are. Even the 40,000 or so warheads at the height of the Cold War aren't that effective. I suppose we could seed all those bombs with cobalt and fire them off with intent to kill as many people as possible. That might drive to extinction any unshielded lifeforms above a few kilograms or with a longish lifespan. But anyone who is deep underwater or hangs out in a moderately deep underground cave for a few years, is probably going to survive.

        • There is the legend of the C-Bomb. It's one of those stories of dubious veracity, but it is said that towards the end of it's span the USSR constructed a superweapon. Basically a cluster of hydrogen bombs around a cobolt packing, which would render the surface of the earth uninhabitable if detonated. The ultimate deterrent. As the country collapsed from within, the war never came, and the bomb still sits in a disused base somewhere... as none of those involved in it's construction ever wanted to reveal thei
          • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:20PM (#34594416)

            That isn't a legend, it's an idea that was seriously proposed. And no, nobody ever built it. To begin with, by the middle of the cold war it wasn't necessary.

            "Second strike" capability, that is the ability to launch a devastating counter attack when all of your airfields and missile silos are replaced with glowing craters, made destruction mutually assured, and therefor made the war unwinnable. A single SSBN with a payload of twenty MIRVed missiles has enough firepower to level several opposing cities, more than enough to be a deterrent, and the oceans offer a huge range of hiding places. You don't need a doomsday device to ensure an enemy will not be able to win with a preemptive strike when you have boomers.

      • Re:I'm sure they're (Score:5, Informative)

        by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:13PM (#34594316)

        Not really.

        8 seconds is too short a time frame. The delivery systems for nuclear weapons take longer than that to reach their targets. An ICBM launch from the continental US to what used to be the USSR or vice versa takes at least twenty to thirty minutes of flight time (though a launch from bases in Europe or a ballistic missile sub near the coast would obviously be faster than that). This doesn't factor in the time it takes to authorize a launch.

        And making the entire world uninhabitable is pushing it. During the cold war, most of the targets for those missiles would have been in the northern hemisphere (North America and Eurasia); there would be survivors elsewhere in the world. This doesn't even get into the fact that fallout is not universally lethal, meaning that just because a given region has been contaminated it does not automatically follow that everyone there is doomed.

        In a worst case scenario a full scale nuclear war could mean total human genocide, thought most of the deaths would occur weeks or months after the bombs fell due to radiation poisoning and starvation. A more likely scenario is a massive die-off and the complete collapse of civilization on a global level, as well as regional human extinction in the participating countries.

        This is still terrifying obviously, but it's nowhere near the fictional Armageddon that many people associate with the words "nuclear war".

      • I am not sure if this is true anymore or even if it were ever true; but I was told at the height of the cold war we had the capability to make the entire world uninhabitable in 8 seconds.

        It was probably 8 minutes and based upon Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM). ICBMs going over the north pole would take 20-30 minutes but SLBMs off the coast could hit their targets in as little as 3 minutes.

    • Genocide? Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:56PM (#34594078)

      I don't like how the concept of total annihilation of a country is so easily bandied about. Not just this post, but all over the place. There are 24,051,218 people in North Korea (says Wikipedia), and only a large handful of them are actually causing this problem. How is it even conceivable to murder 24 million innocents (brainwashed, maybe; evil, no) because we don't like the guys in charge. Maybe the North Koreans can talk like that because the people talking are totally insane, but anyone else in the world shouldn't even have this cross their minds. Godwin called, he'd like to remind you that 24 million is four holocausts.

      • Nobody's talking about nuking North Korea pre-emptively because "we don't like the guys in charge" (nobody sane, anyway) but if it comes down to the situation where they fire a nuclear weapon at Seoul, or Tokyo, or wherever (thereby killing millions) then there are many who would state that retaliation in kind is the safest option.

        • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:27PM (#34594510)

          You don't do nuclear retaliation out of revenge or spite.

          What you do instead is make it clear that, if fired upon with nuclear weapons, you will retaliate in kind. And in order for this to be an effective deterrent, the opposing force has to actually care about their own civilians. I'm not at all sure that ol' Kimmy is at all motivated by the welfare of his subjects.

          What would be far more effective is letting North Korea know that if they nuke Seoul or Tokyo, we will nuke every bunker their leadership might hide in. Maybe release satellite photos of said bunkers showing that we know where they'll be hiding if the bombs start flying, and intimating that those safe havens will not be safe for very long in a nuclear war. Make it a personal threat instead, such that self-preservation becomes a major factor.

          • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

            What would be far more effective is letting North Korea know that if they nuke Seoul or Tokyo, we will nuke every bunker their leadership might hide in. Maybe release satellite photos of said bunkers showing that we know where they'll be hiding if the bombs start flying, and intimating that those safe havens will not be safe for very long in a nuclear war. Make it a personal threat instead, such that self-preservation becomes a major factor.

            Trouble is, Kim might have looked at the US's hunting down of Osama

    • by cdrguru ( 88047 )

      Yes, but if Kim Jong Il is hidden away in a deep bunker then the only important person in North Korea survives. I'll bet outside of a few high ranking friends who would also be in said bunker it really doesn't matter to Mr. Kim who else might or might not survive.

      That is way MAD doesn't work with North Korea. Or Iran. It just doesn't matter if the civilian population survives or not. It's war, you see and there will be casualties.

    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:20PM (#34594426)

      Not at all.
      They are completely sane, and completely ruthless, and they don't think like you do so NEVER take North Korean propaganda at face value.

      This is perfectly standard NK gamesmanship repeated down the decades. They are rational, calculating, and smarter than naive Westerners. This game is very old news, as any Cold War vet can attest.

      The Norks are magnificent at classic Cold War penis-waving, they are the finest of trolls, and they are NOT going to commit suicide. Unlike Jihadists, who are horny to die for Allah, Norks leadership are rational and want to stay rich and powerful. Know and understand the difference.

      That is not to say the NK masses won't willingly die in droves if ordered, just like the last time, but that is what masses of simple people are for.
      The NK Army never lost a war, just battles. Don't forget that bit either.

      • They are completely sane

        If they really were completely sane, they would understand that their nation would be a lot more prosperous if they abandoned their nuclear ambitions and attempted to rejoin the world community. Heck, even Moammar Qaddafi gets it, and made some pretty huge concessions to get reaccepted on the world stage.

      • Re:I'm sure they're (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:10PM (#34596144)

        The NK Army never lost a war, just battles. Don't forget that bit either.

        This is completely false. The North Korean military was completely and utterly routed to the Chinese side of the border in almost every single China-DPRK border province. North Korea was entirely defeated when 300,000 Chinese troops moved at night under orders of strict silence to repel the joint American and South Korean forces that were standing just on the south side of the Yalu and Tumen rivers.

        Then there are the Crab Wars of the 1990s between South Korea and North Korea. There were a small number of victories on the littoral seas in the beginning for North Korea, but they soon began losing every skirmish they started and had to stop provoking the losses of their own ships. The DPRK lost this entire campaign.

      • by Estanislao Martínez ( 203477 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:34PM (#34596298) Homepage

        The NK Army never lost a war, just battles. Don't forget that bit either.

        No, the UN forces flat-out defeated the North Korean Army in 1950. The war only lasted beyond that because the Chinese took over. Just look at the strengths of the top 5 combatants (Wikipedia numbers, yeah):

        • China: 926,000
        • South Korea: 590,911
        • USA: 480,000
        • North Korea: 260,000
        • UK: 63,000

        Yes, Communist China fielded 3.5x as many troops as the North Koreans. On top of that, right before the war they gave the North Koreans 70,000+ ethnic Korean soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army, including two already-organized, experienced ethnic Korean divisions that had fought in the Chinese civil war. Kim Il Sung invaded the south only after Mao promised to send forces if the USA intervened. The Chinese Communists really, really threw their support behind North Korea.

  • Is this really any different from the rhetoric they've been using for the past however-many years now?

    I wouldn't be eager for the war to actually heat up these days, though. Hyundai's been making some pretty spiffy cars lately; be a shame to have their production interrupted.
    • that's the problem with DPRK, they are one giant troll and when they don't think they are getting enough attention they do something so bizarre you have to respond.

      So the DPRK is a troll with guns, who will use them. When the old man dies they will probably sink a few ships and lob artillery shells for fun for a few days, and blame it all on the USA.

      China is the only country they listen too, so China has always defended DPRK, But even China is getting tired of the circular recursion. Like Peace in the mid

  • I guess they know they can't win a full war so want to go out with a bang. Scary....nothing to lose but probably more than happy to leave an imprint on history.

  • Strangelove: "the whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost...if you keep it a secret. Why didn't you tell the world, eh?" Perhaps North Korea understands this evil calculus.
  • Okie dokie then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:51PM (#34594014) Homepage

    a war with South Korea would involve nuclear weapons, and '[will] not be limited to the Korean peninsula.'

    So what they're saying is if tensions rise the only safe response is to proactively nuke North Korea until they glow.

    Well alllll righty then. B-bye now!

  • by boguslinks ( 1117203 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:52PM (#34594028)
    NK has been issuing statements like this for years. I take a peek at their news site [] every so often and there's always something that reads like this.

    Not sure why Yahoo! or AFP or anyone else would suddenly consider this news. But I can take a few guesses.
  • About 30 minutes after the first artillery shells landed in Seoul, a nice mushroom cloud would appear over Pyongyang.

    • by RsG ( 809189 )

      Nope. The US has a very strong "no first use" policy regarding nuclear weapons. Granted, they're the only country to ever actually use them in warfare, but in point of fact the destruction caused at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a significant factor in shaping that policy.

      As far as that goes, every other major nuclear power, past and present, has the same policy for the same reasons. By "major nuclear power" I mean the US, Britain, France, Russia and China; Iran and NK don't count (yet) and Israel won't adm

      • by Facegarden ( 967477 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:19PM (#34595776)

        Nope. The US has a very strong "no first use" policy regarding nuclear weapons...

        No we don't. Not for North Korea. In April 2010 we extended our no first use policy for almost everyone, but very specifically excluded Iran and North Korea.

        Our policy still indicates that we are very much interested in exhausting all options, and everyone seems to get that Nukes are terrible (though as little as a few years ago Bush had allowed for us to Nuke anyone that might have WMDs, or a towel on their head).

        But we specifically excluded NK in our no first use policy. I don't think we'd ever want to be the ones to use them first, but we could.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:53PM (#34594050)

    I think "Nuclear Launch Detected" is already a familiar phrase to South Koreans.

  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:54PM (#34594068)

    Didn't we (and by we I mean the US and the UK) just finish "liberating" 2 other countries on much flimsier pretexts than this. We've got a crackpot dictator AND genuine WMD's (although the phrase WMD seems to be getting applied to anything larger than small arms nowadays) surely in the spirit of not being hypocritical warmongering oil fetishists we must now "liberate" North Korea.

    • Re:Wait a minute... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mangamuscle ( 706696 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:14PM (#34594332)
      Because neither Iraq nor Afghanistan had China as their buddy. Check out why the previous war in Korea ended in a stalemate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 )

      North Korea is beyond liberation. For change, the entire nation and it's culture must be obliterated. But that would be a genuine crime against humanity. So, we wait for South Korea to go up in smoke. That's when the endless talking with the Chinese and Russians start. Next, we decide on how best to rebuild that nation on the terms of the North Korean regime based on special provisions and treaties.

      No, the Western World doesn't have the balls to face evil anymore. We are...pussies.

      • Hard to tell if you're serious, but really, how would a military solution work against NK?

        Yes, the North Korean military is very large, but it's suffering from ammunition and fuel shortages, it's undertrained and it is using obsolete equipment, mostly old Soviet hardware and their own designs that are essentially reworkings of the Soviet ones. The conventional military isn't a match for the South Korean military plus US troops stationed there, let alone additional US forces.

        But NK has a huge amount of artil

  • by FlapHappy ( 937803 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:55PM (#34594074) Journal
    Somehow N. Korea got nuclear weapons before they invented the Internet (let alone the wheel)...HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?
    • by GryMor ( 88799 )

      The same way I had a unit of mechanized infantry running around smashing north america while still in the Medieval era.
      Ancient Ruins

  • Dear Stuxnet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metrometro ( 1092237 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:56PM (#34594084)

    Dear whoever made Stuxnet: I don't care who you are. I don't want to know. But please mess these guys up. Overspin some centerfuges. Junk up some technical schematics. Generally make them miserable and ineffective.

  • by Leuf ( 918654 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:00PM (#34594138)
    After you have cried wolf so many times that people ignore you then you need to move on to wolves with fricken laser beams, and then eventually wolves with ICBMs. After that maybe it's time to try something different. Maybe something with sharks.
  • Cry wolf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Petbe ( 1790948 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:03PM (#34594174)
    That is probably the best way I can view North Korea now, simply crying wolf. We all know of their lack of abilities when it comes to nuclear armament. We also know that they lack the ballistics to reach the US or anywhere of real interest. I think the ballistic they test fired (which had the potential to reach Japan) failed miserably. I they have the potential to make something go boom, but in the end, no real means on delivering on it. In regard to the whole war games we (US) participated in, and the threat that followed. I predicted (correctly) what would happen. And I wonder if it will happen again. It is quite simple, NK hates to tarnish its own name. So when it makes a threat and does not follow through, it must distract the people with some news so they forget about the threats. For example, they threatened to initiate war and kill all of us (as usual). Well, obviously they did not follow through with the plan (especially suicidal since we had the Washington carrier there) so they needed a distraction. So what did they do, they announce they had nuclear weapons. It is like trying to hold something shiny in front of NK's people to distract them. I really hate NK though... I hate them because I have mix feelings and the blame is on them. I hate the idea of war and thousands if not millions of people dying. But at the same time, I really wish garbage like them would be wiped from the planet. We have like what, 60,000 troops over there now. They live there, that is there home. Imagine if we did not have to have them over there. Imagine if some of the troops in the middle east no longer have to go for another tour because of us bringing the troops back from the DMZ. In the end, I think a nuclear war would be bad against NK. They will have all the important people hiding like rats underground while the poor and rest of the people would suffer above ground. Bunker busters are the way to go! P.S. I curse Starcraft because when I read this, the first thing that went through my mind was: "Nuclear Launch Detected".
  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:20PM (#34594412)

    This is entirely attributable to the US pursuance of the policy of aggression against the DPRK (North Korea).

    Is that even true? I'm not overly inclined to trust the US government, but shouldn't we have heard by now about a 'policy of aggression' if we were conducting one? From as unbiased a view as possible, is there any truth to this allegation whatsoever? Are we, or even - can we be construed to be pursuing a policy of aggression against North Korea?

    I'm genuinely asking...

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @07:28PM (#34594528)

    The whole thing with N. Korea is stupid beyond belief that all the other countries of the world AND the U.N. has let this continue (Zimbabwe, too).

    Well, there is no cease fire from the early 50s, so lets go in and finish off all the big govt buildings in PY and demand surrender or else.

    Nothing like stirring up war during Christmas in honor of the Crusades.

    Lets see now. Who would come to the defense of North Korea...No one. Now isn't that dandy.

    But Kim Jong Mentally Ill has been doing this for a long time, so we can wait until the time is good...or they just have a revolution. Either way it will be horrible, but KJM Ill has set it up this way and I don't see a way out without a lot of people dying of either starvation or war. That is his choice, because he won't abdicate & surrender.

  • Fanatic civilians? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wain13001 ( 1119071 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @08:30PM (#34595332)

    All of this always makes me think of an article that ran a few years back (not on slashdot) that was interviewing several people who had managed to defect/escape from NK into China and other places. These were average citizens...

    One of them told how her job was to collect the pamphlets that were dropped by US planes, and how she feels so incredibly foolish now, because she and all of her coworkers had to use sharpened sticks to pick them up. They did this because they had been told that the US pamphlets which espoused democracy and freedom were covered in some kind of an acidic solution that would eat away their skin if they touched them.

    She acknowledged how (in the light of having escaped and seen the world around her for the first time in a more impartial manner) very silly it was to believe such a thing, but reiterated that everyone who worked with her truly believed this to be true.

    This sort of thing makes me very nervous about the idea of invading North Korea. The people are so incredibly ignorant of the world around them and we know so little about them besides the fact that they're not well educated and starving, that it seems dangerously possible that going to war with them would mean going to war with an entire country of zealots...this does not seem like a good option.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong