According to the Defence Committee, North Korea will “almost certainly” have Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles able to reach the UK within six to 18 months.

North Korea will soon achieve its goal of posing a nuclear threat to its opponents, according to a Report by the House of Commons Defence Committee, and is unlikely to abandon its quest for a nuclear arsenal so close to fulfilment. Its ruler, Kim Jong-un, “is ruthless, like other Communist dictators before him, but he is rational” and “can be dissuaded from the use of nuclear weapons, by means of a policy of deterrence and containment.”

Within the next six to 18 months, North Korea is almost certain to be able to reach the UK with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) though its ability to arm them with nuclear warheads has yet to be proven says the committee. The report adds that the United Kingdom is more likely to face further cyber-attacks from North Korea; adverse consequences of nuclear proliferation by North Korea; and calls for regional assistance in the event of allies coming under attack by North Korea.

The report states:

“A North Korean nuclear strike against the UK seems highly unlikely. We do not believe that North Korea regards the UK as a primary target – its goal being to threaten the United States mainland (although also bringing the UK within range of its missiles) in the event of hostilities on the peninsula. It will be obvious to Kim Jong Un that initiating a nuclear exchange is bound to lead to North Korea’s annihilation: the polar opposite of his objective of regime survival.

We consider that Kim Jong Un, though undoubtedly ruthless, is nevertheless rational. As such, he could be dissuaded and deterred from launching a nuclear weapon. It is far more likely that the UK will continue to suffer from reckless North Korean cyber-attacks, such as Wannacry. North Korea has shown an utter lack of concern about who gets hurt by such attacks.”

North Korea has made significant advances in its nuclear weapons development programme, with an unprecedented series of missile launches and nuclear tests over the past two years. It is possible that North Korea can already strike the United Kingdom with ICBMs, which could potentially carry and deliver nuclear warheads. It is almost certain to achieve this range within the next six to 18 months. However, “North Korea has not yet publicly demonstrated that it has mastered either nuclear warhead miniaturisation or re-entry”, and a North Korean nuclear strike against the UK seems “highly unlikely”, given its primary focus on threatening the United States mainland.

According to the Committee, “It is obvious to North Korea that launching such weapons would lead inescapably to devastating military consequences.” By contrast, it is “far more likely that the UK will continue to suffer from reckless North Korean cyber-attacks, such as Wannacry”, on account of the regime’s “utter lack of concern about who gets hurt by such attacks.”

There is also “a definite danger that North Korea would have few, if any, qualms about promoting nuclear proliferation to other states, or even non-state actors”, and the government is asked what action it will take to prevent North Korea from selling on its nuclear technology.

Committee chairman Julian Lewis said:

“The nuclear and cyber threats posed by North Korea are typical of the new and intensifying dangers confronting the UK. Yet, new threats require extra investment – not the usual process of simply balancing the books by sacrificing conventional capabilities which are still needed to deal with ongoing older threats.

We need to invest much more than the Nato minimum of two per cent of GDP. A target nearer three per cent is essential to fill existing holes in the defence budget and counter re-emerging state-based threats from Russia and North Korea.”

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That is one slow missile. 🙂




This website needs upvote functionality because that is comedy gold right there. +1!


oh I just got it lol

Nigel Collins

Time to invest heavily in Dragonfire for our ships and a larger land based version of it to protect our coastline and major cities.

Stop spending billions of pounds pa on charitable aid and invest in our armed forces and security services instead.

We can use both the manpower and equipment to support the UK’s aid contribution in peacetime.
And with the amount of current and future threats we face, charity needs to begin at home.

Ben P

Dragonfire is years away from been operational and it could never cover the whole coastline.

Nigel Collins

Not according to this link Ben.

As I mentioned above, a larger land based system would be required and of course more than one in order to achieve complete protection.


I suspect Dragonfire-like technology is a long way from being much use against ICBMs. Firstly, as I understand it these aren’t like Startrek phasers that zap things like a gun, they need to stay trained on a target for a while (seconds?) to achieve their effect. It’s a whole different ballgame doing that on a subsonic or barely supersonic sea skimmimg missile at within-horizon ranges vs doing that for a high altitude hypersonic ICBM on reentry. The angular precision required to keep on target is massively (and I mean massively) increased. Then add the additional power needed for the increased… Read more »


The trouble is that politicians and by association the establishment in general have done so much damage to their reputations when it comes to having the public believe them, so much so that I’m not convinced that reports such as these will even move the dial on the public debate. Two of the biggest own goals still in most voters’ memories are… The Iraq dodgy dossier claiming Sadam had weapons of mass destruction ready to be used within 45 minutes. The Remain campaign’s increasingly hysterical rhetoric in the days before the referendum about the claimed negative consequences that reached their… Read more »


Let me correct you, it was the Leave campaigns increasingly hysterical rhetoric in the last days of the campaign with their manufactured smear against Remain of them running a project fear!

An emergency budget would have been highly sensible but hysteria from Leave prevented it happening forcing the Bank of England to step in to stave off a recession.

Steve M

I think it was highly sensible of the BoE to step in, lowering interest rates to 0.25% and printing more money. Did hysteria from Leave force it? No, the vote did which I have found a lot of voters actually researched themselves and aren’t the foppish headline followers that many in the press continually claim.

Had there been an emergency budget, cutting some 15bn from spending, have a guess where it would have fallen…. Defence. We would then be here discussing how we came to scrapping the Royal Marines.

Lee H

Morning all Before we start talking numbers and increases let’s take a bit of time to understand what the committee has said and what potential raminficstions it could have with regards to the Defence posture. I can still remember headlines of “45 minutes warning” from the early 2000’s. So a committee has heard evidence and reported its finding, that in about 18 months North Korea could possess technology at a suitably tested state that it could pose a direct territorial threat to he United Kingdom and, more widely her NATO allies and EU partners. They also discuss the growing Cyber… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Morning Lee. I agree that 3% is too much to hope for. Does the Defence Select Committee have any influence whatsoever though with government? I’ve read their reports for many years and most recommendations fall on deaf ears. I personally think the UK should stay well out of this business with North Korea. As a P5 member of the UNSC we go like a moth to the light with any flashpoint in aid of the Americans. That’s fine if in a European theatre with NATO. The more we involve ourselves the more we become a target. That’s not to say… Read more »


I agree with this principle, the problem is if the Americans adopted the same principle Europe would be screwed as it has free loaded off the Americans to protect their sovereignty for decades.


The best thing for European defence would actually be the US leaving Europe imo, or at least reduce their commitments here massively. There is a lot of European countries who don’t spend enough on defence and as you pointed out have freeloaded of the US for decades. The money is there, European allies have a bigger GDP (ppp) than the US, and the second biggest in the world behind the US in nominal GDP. Manpower is there, European population is over 500 million. I do genuinely believe that if Europe was primarily defended by Britain, France and Germany, the 4th… Read more »


I agree with all of that except maybe the last sentence. I suspect that with the cost and complexity of the weapons systems involved NOK is only ever going to have a handful of warheads not the sort of obliterate-the-planet arsenals that the USA and USSR had during the Cold War. As long as we don’t put ourselves directly in the firing line we are unlikely to get a NOK missile sent our way. Our exposure is also probably lessened by the fact that we would be at the extreme limits of range and so a more difficult target than… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fair points Julian. Proliferation and appeasement pose their own problems!


The report also mentions the danger that NOK would have no qualms about exporting its technology and that would be attractive to it because they could sell it for a very high price.

The North Korean Missile and Nuclear program is largely funded by Iran who have a huge military contingent in country.


Silly me, forgot to close my HTML tag for the top para, sorry.

Mr J Bell

3-3.5% needed.
BMD via type 45s and land based versions.
It is definetly time to cut the foreign aid budget and pump all of that money back into UK defence budget.
Perhaps order an air defence variant of type 26 hull to supplement low numbers of type 45s but have the air defence type 26 optimised for fleet area defence and/or BMD.

Evan P

3-3.5% may be needed, but is completely unrealistic. If the foreign aid budget was cut, defence would be near the back of the queue for additional funding. 2.5% is still a big increase, and should solve most of the problems currently faced by our armed forces, namely equipment availability and manning. Admittedly it won’t leave much room for our dream fleets but it would be a start at least.


Time to reappraise the UK’s Civil Defence manual? The likelihood of a non-Russian ballistic attack on the Uk, in my estimation, is higher than a Russian attack at the height of the Cold War? When the British people come to realize the true dangers from those rough nations, who have recently acquired nuclear missiles, they will want to see tangible action plans, cosmetic or otherwise.


We actually need to get away from the whole 2% or 3% debate. The MOD/Armed forces (and other key national strategic assets) have been massively damaged by the short sighted and quite frankly childish way HMG government allocates funding and departmental budgets with annual settlements based on a mix of political dogma, what sells well with the medial and which minister of state has the most sway. At best this leads to irrational spending decisions and at worse the destruction of whole areas of strategic need (not just in defence, anyone like to guess how many thousands of trained nurses… Read more »

Steve M

Whilst I agree with the overall sentiment of your post, I think it will be hard to achieve even if the current government decided upon it now. The majority for any spending bills to pass in parliament is very thin indeed and as can be seen by the various Brexit votes, they get heavily amended to appease 1 or 2 MP’s to ensure they pass. That being said, any MP who votes against increases in spending for the departments/ areas mentioned above would likely face a huge backlash from their constituents. The issues will arise where things like changes to… Read more »


Hi Steve Unfortunately the above is dependent on rational decision making and very honest conversations around exactly what is needed (vs wanted) and how much it costs and how it will be paid for. We do need our political classes to man up and tell the public the true picture/cost of must haves vs what is nice to have or what tax rate they would like. It also means that people need to trust what politicians and experts are saying ( which is difficult since the political classes are not known for the true and people are not willling to… Read more »

Steve M

Agree completely


The North Koreans fired their Hwangsong 15 last November 2017. It has a range over 13,000km which places Washington DC firmly within its reach. If the missile was fired west, The whole of the UK is within its reach, this was known about last year. However, what is more worrying is that it has taken parliament this long to acknowledge! The “experts” haven’t been able to state whether it carries only a single warhead or multiple. Because so many of NKs testing was done into the Sea of Japan and a couple went over one of their islands. The Japanese… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

What the Land Based Test Site at Portsdown Hill with the 2 T45 radar arrays?

Is it really that simple?


Yes, up to a point. The site is used for training but also software development. To be a useful training asset it replicates the T45s PAAMs and has pretty much everything bar the missiles. The integration side of things for land would cost but as the majority of the development costs have already worked through with the systems integration on the ship it would not be massive. The radar has already proven its capabilities with search, acquisition and track with exercises with the USN in the Pacific but also during last years Formidable Shield off Scotland. Italy and France are… Read more »


I’m not sure the Aster NT or the Aster BMD would be sufficient for these intercontinental missiles as they are being designed to intercept targets with ranges of 1500km and 3000km respectively. I think it might be better to join the US BMD programme as they already have SM-3 which can intercept targets over 5000kms range. The US are also making faster progress on other BMD capabilities.


As far as I’m aware the Aster the BMD programmes are there for theatre level protection not for ICBMs.


A few things in this story don’t sit right with me. 1) Why would NK lob a missile across the world when its beef is with the US/SK and to a smaller degree Japan. 2) Yes I understand that the threat of Missile attack is a real one and not just from NK. 3) The UK has never had a ABM system and the threat was even larger during the cold war. 4) If NK used a nuke on the UK, then I am pretty sure that a parts of it would be glowing within a few days due to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

1) Agree. No reason why they would unless we make them by getting involved and making enemies of ourselves.
2) Of course.
3) Correct. MAD is real.
4) Agree, I would not trust Labour to defend anything whatsoever.
5) Agree. But same as 1, why would they do that.

For me the nation getting it in the neck big time if anything kicks off is South Korea.


Yes. NK cares a lot about national prestige, making the leader look glorious, etc. Because of that, if heaven forbid it did ever use long range missiles, it would want to maximise the chances of success and not have an embarrassing failure. Simply because of that fact I think, even though it might soon have the theoretical strike ranges being talked about here, the closer you are to NK the greater the danger of being a target. As mentioned, SK is first in the firing line and I would say Japan next. After that probably Australia and then if NK… Read more »


I must agree that we are way down on the “Rocket Man’s” list of priorities and having read Earl Howe’s statement to the Select Committee that although there is no obligation put on us for helping ROK if the shit hits the fan he suggest that morally we would. The PAMMs system with the Block2 BMD Aster will be able to engage medium range ballistic missile as well as theatre. It should also be able to engage ICBMs when its in the terminal phase. There would still be concern of where the debris will land and if the nuclear material… Read more »