How to stop the madman in North Korea

What on earth to do about Kim Jong-un, the mad dictator in North Korea. His father and grandfather were both fearsome leaders, bent on having nuclear arms and dominating the region/world. But this son of the dynasty is seriously worrying on a scale even greater than his relatives. You would never believe it that he was educated in Switzerland and enjoys the trappings of western culture. He is hell bent on developing an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead that can reach the homeland of the United States. The latest evidence, of an improved engine thrust for his missiles, demonstrates that he is well on the way. North Korea already claims, probably falsely, that it has successfully miniaturised a warhead to fit on the end of a long-range missile. I say falsely, but who really knows? Certainly not the United States with all its spying apparatus. The miniaturisation programme is being carried out in a deep, deep bunker far from the prying eyes of US spy satellites, and I sincerely doubt there are any CIA-employed spies inside Kim Jong-un’s inner circle or in any of the underground nuclear bomb-building laboratories. So it’s a sot of guess and hope for the best. Not very comforting for us normal mortals who want to lead a quite life and sleep well at night. I once asked Leon Panetta when he was US Secretary of State for Defense what kept him up at night more than anything else, he replied North Korea and Iran. Today he would probably narrow that down to North Korea. This closed country is a serious threat to the world. Kim Jong-un really does believe that if he can have an assortment of nuclear-armed ICBMs sitting on the backs of lorries ready to be fired at the slightest twitch of his finger, the world will bow to his demands. Maybe when he is alone in his bedroom after he has watched the latest box set of an American TV drama series, he gets to thinking about actually firing one of those missiles for the sheer hell of it. Just to make sure it can reach the US without being shot down by America’s THAAD anti-missile defence system, now parked in South Korea, or an Aegis class warship offshore armed with a Standard hit-to-kill anti-missile weapon. Never mind the consequences, he might think. But, in fact, what would the consequences be? Jim Mattis, the pugnacious US Secretary of Defence, not that long ago a four-star general in the Marine Corps, has warned Pyongyang of an overwhelming response if he launches a nuclear missile against anyone. But would Trump have the nerve to retaliate with a nuclear strike against North Korea that could kill thousands of people, and spread radiation everywhere. And there would still be time for Kim Jong-un to order his artillery troops near the border with South Korea to fire every shell they have in stock to destroy Seoul. Whichever way you look, it’s a nightmare scenario. But assuming that Kim Jong-un has enough brains to work this out for himself, it’s probably what keeps him happy each day. He knows that even the American president with a mighty nuclear weapons arsenal at his disposal is not going to fire off a mass nuclear attack which will change the whole world’s future, not just North Korea’s. Mattis clearly has in mind an “overwhelming” conventional strike. We’re talking B2 strategic bombers and F22 Stealth fighters, on a continuous run to try and knock out all the nuclear facilities, Kim Jong-un’s palace, the artillery batteries and anything else that threatens South Korea or Japan. Nevertheless, such retaliation would have huge unforeseen consequences. How would China react? How would the rest of the world react? How many people could Kim Jong-un kill before his regime is destroyed? Trump and Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, have indicated that everything is on the table, including the military option. That, presumably, includes preemptive action; in other words, taking out the nuclear facilities in North Korea BEFORE Kim Jong-un presses the nuclear button. But that’s a very dangerous consideration. China would NEVER accept the justification for a pre-strike against a neighbour it stupidly supports. So what, Trump might ask! But any preemptive action would unquestionably lead to a massive response from Pyongyang against South Korea where the US has 28,500 stationed troops. And there’s no certainty that the B2s and F22s, both capable of evading North Korean air-defence radars, would finish off the job successfully. North Korea has its longer-range missiles on trucks. So they’re constantly on the move and they’re well camouflaged. The best bet would be to target Kim Jong-un himself, if he could be found, and hope that all the fawning generals who accompany him wherever he goes, writing down everything he says in their little notebooks, will give up and run away! Who’d be the president of the United States over the next four years? And by the way, I don’t believe Trump would be any different from his predecessors in deciding what the hell to do if Kim Jong-un was all set to fire an ICBM at the US.