While latest test raises major concerns, U.S. military’s plan to “strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes” poses a threat of a whole different magnitude
By Jon Queally and cross-posted from Common Dreams
With many headlines overnight warning that Pyongyang now has the ability “to hit Washington, D.C.” with an intercontinental ballistic missile, the latest test by North Korea on Tuesday offers a new opportunity to remind people about the list of global cities the U.S. military could strike with its massive arsenal of ICBMs, Naval-based cruise missiles, and fleet of nuclear submarines: All of them. Every single one. Probably within the hour
While the United Nations and others expressed serious concern about the latest test—and the Trump administration announced a fresh round of sanctions on Wednesday morning—there was little (if any) open acknowledgement that while the North Koreans make steady progress on their ICBM and nuclear weapons programs, the U.S. maintains the world’s largest and most sophisticated atomic weapons program in the form of the Nuclear Triad while also commanding an arsenal of hundreds of ICBMs with ranges long enough to hit any major city in the world.
Capable of flying over 6,000 miles towards a precision target, the Minuteman-III missile—of which it has more than 400—remains the U.S. military’s premiere ICBM. In addition to U.S. Navy ships positioned in key locations around the world armed with countless cruise missiles, the American arsenal also includes an unparalleled nuclear strike capability which—despite the inherent threat of any and all atomic weapons—far surpasses anything the North Koreas could develop within the coming years, if ever. As Newsweek documented earlier this year, while North Korea maintains a large and powerful military relative to its size and economic position,
“the U.S.’s overall military capabilities are unparalleled. The U.S. has one of the world’s largest military budgets accounting for gross domestic product, spending roughly $618 billion a year on arms and other military capabilities. It has nearly 8,000 nuclear warheads in reserve, 13,900 aircraft, 920 attack helicopters and 72 submarines, along with 800 overseas military bases in 70 countries scattered across strategic areas throughout the world, and roughly 150,090 soldiers stationed across 150 countries. The U.S. employs about 1,066,600 soldiers.”
Beyond that, as journalist Noah Schachtman reported for Wired in 2007, the U.S. military “has been searching for ways to, in the words of U.S. Strategic Command’s Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, ‘strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes.’ The boys at Stratcom call the concept ‘Prompt Global Strike,’ or PGS.”
But, he added, “The Pentagon doesn’t just want to blast any target on Earth, in an hour. The military wants to strike everywhere and anywhere, just about instantly, with ‘cans of whup-ass.’”