The U.S. would need only less than five minutes to launch a nuclear attack in retaliation for North Korea attacking Guam.
Washington and Pyongyang fired off a series of threats on Tuesday, as tensions between the two nuclear powers have reached an unprecedentedly high level in the aftermath of the UN imposing a new round of sanctions on the rogue state.
Within hours after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued its nuclear tests, Pyongyang opened its own salvo of threats and said it was seriously considering a missile attack on Guam, the Pacific island on which Washington has a key Air Force base.
With the probability of actual war between the U.S. and North Korea standing at a previously unseen level, what would actually happen after a North Korea Guam missile attack? How would Trump retaliate?
Background Check: How Likely is North Korea Guam Missile Attack?
At this point, not likely. When North Korea launched a rocket that was capable of reaching the mainland U.S. last month, the Pentagon knew that North’s nuclear threat could no longer be ignored. With Pyongyang reportedly having in its possession medium-range missiles capable of delivering nuclear missiles that can reach most of South Korea and Japan, the pariah state could be just one step away from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear weapon and strike the U.S. mainland.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, all of which prompted a furious response from its neighbors and the international community. With each nuclear test, North’s nuclear capabilities are undeniably growing at a rapid pace, and the sixth nuclear test could be just around the corner.
North Korea Could Attack Guam As Soon As Next Week
Next week, North Korea will be celebrating its liberation day. Given Pyongyang’s nuclear track record, the rogue state usually times its nuclear tests to coincide with major events or celebrations, which means North’s liberation day could be a unique opportunity for its leader Kim Jong Un to launch a new missile or carry out its sixth nuclear test. Amid the heated exchange of threats between the U.S. and North Korea, one can argue that Pyongyang could carry out a Guam missile attack on its liberation day to make a statement.
But how would the U.S. retaliate if North Korea were to attack Guam, which became a U.S. territory back in 1898 and is a vital asset for the Pentagon?
U.S. Would Need ‘Months’ To Get Ready For US vs North Korea War
If North Korea lives up to its promise to shower Guam, which is sitting in the Pacific east of the Philippines around 1,700 miles south of North Korea, with its missiles, the chance of Washington ignoring it and not retaliating is close to zero. There are pretty much only two options how the U.S. could retaliate for North Korea Guam missile attack: (1) launch an all-out war against North involving U.S. Navy and Air Force squads or (2) launch a nuclear strike on North Korean territory.
The problem with the option No. 1 is that it could take “months” for the U.S. to get ready for war with Pyongyang, according to retired U.S. Army general Mark Hertling. Mr. Hertling told CNN on Wednesday that it would take the Pentagon “weeks, if not months to sort out the logistics” for the U.S. vs North Korea war.
How Would US vs North Korea War Play Out?
The retired army general explained that before declaring war on North, Washington would first need to (1) evacuate tens of thousands of U.S. civilians, many of them military dependents, from South Korea and (2) deploy a considerable military force consisting of U.S. Navy ships and submarines armed with cruise missiles as well as Air Force bombers.
Although some of the U.S. military hardware is already in place in the region – mostly in Japan and South Korea – it would not be enough to “decapitate North Korea in terms of their artillery,” argues Mr. Hertling. Defense experts have estimated that Pyongyang has thousands of conventional artillery, which the retired U.S. army general estimates would take the U.S. “a couple of weeks of airstrikes” to destroy.
Washington would also be in need of fuel and support personnel in place to carry out an offensive operation against North Korea. Mr. Hertling also said that Washington would need at least two U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups in the waters near the Korean peninsula before going to war with North.
If North Korea delivers its promise and carries out a missile attack on Guam, the military action that would most likely be aimed at destroying Washington’s crucial Air Force base on the island, it would create even more difficulties for the U.S. to wage war against the rogue state.
This makes the let’s-nuke-North-Korea scenario even more probable.
Trump Needs Only ‘5 Minutes’ to Launch Nuclear Missile on North Korea
The U.S. launching a nuclear attack on North Korea is the easiest and fastest to execute, yet it poses catastrophic risks not only for the Korean peninsula, where casualties could reach millions, but also for the entire world.
As estimated by former Minuteman missile-launch officer Bruce G. Blair, it would take Trump less than five minutes to nuke North Korea. In his estimations – published in Bloomberg – the expert argues that only less than five minutes would elapse from the time Trump orders to launch a nuclear strike against North to blasting intercontinental ballistic missiles out of their silos.
By contrast, it would take roughly 15 minutes to fire submarine missile on North Korea from their tubes, Mr. Blair estimates. While the former missile-launch officer warns that President Trump may face some opposition from military brass, most are expected to fall in line.
After all, North Korea launching a missile attack on Guam, which is roughly the size of Chicago and has a population of 162,000, would be an attack on America.