Here's what happens when North Korea gets ICBMs

North Korea test-launched two Nodong ballistic missiles into the East Sea in the morning of March 26, 2014, according to South Korea’s military report. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/ Getty Images.
  • North Korea will build a nuclear missile that can hit the US mainland within a short period — for that reason the US considers them the top threat to security.
  • The US has no practical way to counter North Korea’s nuclear development.
  • The US will just have to live with the fact that North Korean nukes can range its major cities, just like South Korea and Japan already do.

Secretary of Defence James Mattis didn’t mince words before the House Armed Services Committee on Monday night, saying North Korea — not Russia or terrorism — represented the top threat to the US in 2017.

“North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope,” said Mattis. “The regime’s nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime’s provocative actions, manifestly illegal under international law, have not abated despite United Nations’ censure and sanctions.”

Mattis’s testimony came just days after the head of the US’s Missile Defence Agency, Vice Adm. James Syring, told the House Armed Services committee on that the US “must assume that North Korea can reach us with a ballistic missile,” and that the missile defences are not yet ready to meet that threat.

North Korea volunteered on Tuesday that its missiles could hit New York City.

While North Korea often exaggerates its weapons’ capabilities, several experts have told Business Insider it could achieve an intercontinental ballistic missile within a few months to a year.

As Mattis said on Monday, UN sanctions and resolutions against North Korea’s Kim regime have not satisfactorily curbed its nuclear weapons program. Furthermore, experts have told Business Insider that the US to stooping to the conditions for diplomatic talks as proposed by North Korea would amount to nuclear blackmail.

As Mattis noted previously, exercising the often-touted military option against North Korea would lead to a conflict that would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”

So with a North Korean ICBM imminent, diplomatic options ineffective or compromising, and military confrontation an insane solution, what will happen when North Korea gets its wish for a thermonuclear bomb that can level Washington, D.C. or any other US city?

Seoulhighline2Seoul Metropolitan GovernmentSeoul has survived, and actually thrived under the constant threat of nuclear attack for years.

The short answer is nothing. Nothing will happen.

The US already lives with a nuclear-armed North Korea that can level Seoul, South Korea’s capital and home to 10 million civilians. North Korea can already lay waste to the 28,000 US troops permanently stationed near the demilitarized zone.

Japan already lives with the knowledge that North Korea could most likely range Tokyo, home to 9 million, with a nuclear weapon.

Why should anything change when North Korea can reach Guam, Los Angeles, or New York? North Korea doesn’t attack Seoul, Tokyo, Guam, or any other place — because if they did, the US would absolutely destroy them.

That’s the same reason that Russia, despite deep differences on foreign policy and conflicts of interest with the US, never fired on the US, or any other country, even during the height of the Cold War.

“We can deter them,” retired Adm. Dennis Blair, the former head of US Pacific Command, said of North Korea at a National Committee for US-China Relations event. “They may be developing 10 to 15 nuclear weapons. We have 2,000. They can do a lot of damage to the US, but there won’t be any North Korea left in the event of a nuclear exchange. That’s not a good regime survival strategy, and even Kim Jong Un would understand that.”

Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea wrote the possession of nuclear weapons into their constitution as a guarantor of their security.

But to use one of those nuclear weapons in anger would absolutely undermine that desire for security, and likely turn much of the Korean peninsula into a glowing nuclear wasteland.

NOW WATCH: Watch how the US would shoot down an incoming ICBM in its tracks

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