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.”