by Tom Rogan
Once Top Secret, the report released on Tuesday is titled, “Soviet Capabilities and Probable Programs in the Guided Missile Field.” My main takeaway is the following paragraph.
By successfully testing shorter range ballistic missiles, the CIA is saying, the Soviet Union has addressed many of the challenges in perfecting a long-range missile capability. As the CIA notes, the “aerodynamic, structural, and guidance problems” of an ICBM program are similar to the physics of a short range or intermediate range ballistic missile program. The CIA report also notes that with each test of “IRBM and earth satellite programs,” Soviet knowledge of the physics of ballistic missile capabilities grows.
The premise of the CIA’s finding that the Soviets were “rapidly acquiring” an ICBM capability in 1957, applies equally to North Korea in 2017.
After all, the physics haven’t changed; each new North Korean ballistic missile test brings greater knowledge. We know that North Korea has already carried out successful intermediate range ballistic missile tests, and in July, proved its ICBM flight-range capability. In addition, as I noted last month, the British government has made credible the Washington Post’s reporting that the U.S. intelligence community believes North Korea will achieve a credible ICBM-plus-warhead capability in 2018.
Consider something else. In 1957, the CIA’s assessment was absolutely correct: Just five months after the report was published, the Soviet Union conducted a successful ICBM test over the Pacific Ocean.
Correspondingly, in terms of preventing North Korea from establishing that same capability, time is not on America’s side.
To resolve this crisis peacefully, the Trump administration must be bold. It should increase U.S. economic pressure on China, shoot down future North Korean ICBM tests, increase U.S. military deployments proximate to Korea, and present a credible diplomatic plan to Kim Jong Un.
Oh, and recognizing the March 1957 CIA warning of “earth satellite programs” as a cover for ICBM testing, the U.S. should reform the Iran deal to crack down on Iran’s satellite program.