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November 29, 2017

Rocket Man Launches and Trump Responds

The latest North Korean ICBM test is met with a new round of major sanctions from the U.S.

Rocket Man is at it again. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un test-fired another intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, and it reached the highest altitude yet of any of the regime’s previous missiles. This latest launch shows that the North Koreans have developed an ICBM with more than enough range to reach Washington, DC. Adding to the concern, intelligence agencies now believe that the rogue nation is less than a year away from completing its nuclear program.

While it’s clear that Kim is continuing the saber-rattling for geopolitical gain, there is no question that the stakes have risen exponentially. Just six months ago the concern was over an ICBM with the capacity to hit Guam; now the entirety of the continental U.S. is under threat. As a result, there has been an increase in calls for military action, although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to calm that rhetoric, saying, “Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea.”

The threat of landing a nuclear-tipped missile on a U.S. city may still be outside the capacity of the North Koreans, but the greater worry may be that of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack over the continental U.S., which could effectively knock out the electric grid for millions of Americans. It’s hard to overestimate just how disastrous the impact would be.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump responded by announcing new “major sanctions” that will be imposed against North Korea. He tweeted, “Just spoke to President Xi Jingping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!”

As we’ve long argued, the key to reining in and stopping the Kim regime is through China. Beijing must be convinced that Pyongyang’s rogue regime presents the greatest threat to regional and world stability and be willing to allow U.S. military intervention should it come to that.

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