(CNN) – A dire warning from a top us commander following U.S. B-1B bombers’ symbolic show of force against North Korea’s nuclear testing.
General Raymond Thomas, head of special operations command said the U.S. Is increasingly being held “nuclear hostage every day by the North Korean regime.”
General Thomas also openly acknowledging U.S. special operations could be called into action saying “in the event of implosion of the North Korean regime or some other trigger event, we would have the loose nuke dilemma on an industrial scale.”
The immediate worry: how soon North Korea might conduct another nuclear test. The U.S. has watched activity at an underground test site for weeks.
North Korea reacting to the B-1 flights with characteristic bluster saying the U.S. is “bluffing that B-1B’s are enough for fighting an all-out nuclear war.”
Also saying Tthe U.S. Imperialists are going reckless” and are “taken aback” by the successful nuclear test.
Kim Jung Un appears completely undeterred.
Gordon Chang said, “He already has 2 launchers that can hit the lower 48 states, the Taeopdong and the KN08. In 2-3 years he will be able to put nuclear warheads on those missiles, and that will give him a credible capability of attacking U.S. cities.
Analysts at the website 38 north now calculate North Korea could have “a stockpile of sufficient fissile material for approximately 20 bombs by the end of this year” and make up to seven more annually.
Right now the U.S. calculates the regime could have 12 devices on hand. Future production would depend on the size of future bombs.
The rapid escalation of missile and nuclear tests suggests this is about more than North Korea’s usual attempts to show off on the world stage:
Jamie Metzl said, “What NK is doing with these constant tests, both nuclear tests and missile tests, is actually trying to develop a workable, deliverable nuclear deterrent. And that’s much more significant and much more dangerous.”