By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley
Action, reaction. Within three days of President Donald Trump threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and calling Iran a “corrupt dictatorship,” both countries say they’re doubling down on their nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
North Korea’s foreign minister told reporters at the United Nations his country could test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. Any such test would likely fly over Japan, potentially triggering a response from the U.S. or Japanese missile defense systems. In an unprecedented move, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also delivered a rare televised speech Thursday, calling Trump “mentally deranged.”
In response, Trump took to Twitter Friday morning, writing that “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”
Iranian response. During a military parade in Tehran on Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rohani vowed to continue developing missiles. “We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities,” Rohani said. “We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country.” Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif also said on Thursday that if the Trump administration wants to change the terms of the nuclear deal with Tehran, his country will demand Washington make concessions, too.
Pentagon wants tactical nukes? We already have them. So says FP contributor Jeffrey Lewis, who points out that even in the Obama years, the U.S. was developing new nuclear capabilities.
“Yes, Virginia, the United States has low-yield nuclear weapons. The B61 family of gravity bombs and W80 cruise missile warheads both have a ‘variable yield’ function that allows them to explode well below their full yield, presumably by just detonating the fission bomb at the heart of a thermonuclear weapon. The B61 Mod 10, for example, was a ‘dial-a-yield’ device that could be set for a range of options from the full yield of 80 kilotons down to about 300 tons. Three hundred tons! The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was more than 50 times larger.”
First 2,700 soldiers leave for Afghanistan. The Pentagon and White House have said for months that they won’t comment on the number of troops they’re sending to Afghanistan, arguing that knowing how many more Americans are in their country would somehow help the Taliban.
But no administration can secretly…