August 10, 2017

Would North Korean Agents Go On A One Way Suicidal Nuclear Bomb Mission?


"Nuclear Intelligence ReportIn August 2017, the Washington Post reported on a confidential assessment carried out by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency which suggested that North Korea had successfully developed nuclear warheads for missiles within reach of the US mainland.[74] 

Reacting to the report President Trump stated that future threats would be "met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before." In response North Korea announced that it was examining an operational plan to strike areas around the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific, including the Andersen Air Force Base.[75] " and Naval Base Guam which includes nuclear attack submarine (SSN) Squadron 15.


Even if North Korea hasn't yet miniaturised warheads small enough to fit on a missile or torpedo, North Korea could try to deliver larger nuclear devices (maybe 2+ tons), especially to South Korea and/or Japan by other means, including North Korean:

-  mini to medium submarines carrying fitted nuclear demolition charges. The subs would need to be 
   manned by a crew prepared to die or escape by diver delivery/propulsion vehicle (which allow 
   divers to "swim" away faster). 

-  nuclear devices on "civilian cargo ships" or "trawlers" that may have been at sea for days-weeks. 
   Escape the explosion using fast rigid dingies.

-  on aircraft: transport, "civilian" aircraft, or regular reconnaissance aircraft. Bomber aircraft may be
   a bit obvious. A semi-suicidal crew would need to parachute or eject.

-  a well disguised truck load?

-  via a tunnel under North Korean-South Korean border.

All of these methods would be near suicidal for the delivery crew. I don't know how frequently North Korean troops or agents are prepared to carry out suicide missions, but there is a history of it from the 1996 Gangneung submarine incident.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

The Ministry of Defense (Japan) analyzed “As the Defense Secretary, General James Mattis and the National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster know the battle field, the situation is not hastily changed.”

In contrast to the US media, China might be welcome Trump’s threatening, because it helps to persuade NK by China.

Incompetence of the Chinese Government which did not guard Kim Jong-nam and led to his assassination should be blamed.


Peter Coates said...

A partial answer to my question whether North Korean special forces troops, submariners or secret agents, on a mission, are prepared to commit suicide is from Sébastien Roblin's, Scout Warrior article of August 9, 2017. That article recounts the stranded North Korean spy submarine incident, in 1996, off of Gangneung, 90 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two countries :

"The incident at Gangneung demonstrated how deeply the North Korean regime has indoctrinated its troops, to the point that they would commit murder and suicide rather than face capture. Indeed, they likely did not expect mercy from their own government in the event they were captured and repatriated to North Korea alive."

Peter Coates said...

On nuclear tipped torpedos blowing up ports in San Francisco, LA, San Diego or Vancouver, a good Canadian "Ottowa Citizen" article of August 9, 2018 by Sean M. Maloney, Professor of history at the Royal Military College of Canada. points out:

"Forget the nonsense in the media about “miniaturized” nuclear weapons: Nuclear weapons have been “miniaturized” since the late 1950s. If Dr. Evil’s scientists can reduce the size of a thermonuclear warhead so it can fit in a ballistic missile, they can modify a torpedo to carry a nuclear weapon as well. The Soviets did, 60 years ago. A single sub equipped with such weapons could destroy Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego by detonating nuclear weapons underwater, thus producing a radioactive base surge onto land.

Canada and the United States used to have underwater listening systems called SOSUS (sound surveillance systems) to track Soviet submarines, and we used to have maritime patrol aircraft, some capable of employing nuclear depth bombs to ensure a kill against a nuclear-armed target. None of these systems exists today. If Kim decided to send submarines this way and fire nuclear torpedoes or drop nuclear mines opposite Vancouver in Bangor, Wash., where the U.S. Trident missile-carrying submarines operate from, shouldn’t Canada have the ability to detect and engage such intruders?"

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

NK has huge amount the valuable mineral resources of 6-10 trillion dollars in the mountainous region's basement [1].



Josh said...


Short answer, absolutely yes. The DPRK has a long history of suicide squads attempting to infiltrate the ROK with almost no hope of possible recovery. The most ambitious was the Blue House Raid. There are ~50,000 North Korean commandos. Also another likely delivery method for weapons that cannot be sufficiently weaponized for missile use is the An-2.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 10/8/17 9:42 PM ]

Yes it looks like North Korea has massive mineral resource reserves

Its a pity that North Korea's perpetually hostile, sour and paranoid outlook and actions prevents countries transfering mining technology and funding to NK.

NK's missile and nuclear bomb threats also prevent most countries (except China and probably Russia) from buying much from NK.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

Thanks for the tips.

I looked up Blue House Raid. Yes certainly a mainly suicidal mission :
"The Blue House raid (aka "January 21 Incident") was an unsuccessful attempt by North Korean commandos to assassinate the South Korean president, Park Chung-hee in his residence at the Blue House, on January 21, 1968...Of the 31 members of NK Commando Unit 124, 29 were killed; 1 captured, 1 escaped back to NK"

Such a low tech, slow moving and low flying aircraft as the Antonov An-2 carrying a 2 ton nuclear device and manned by 1 or 2 suicidal NK Special Ops Forces pilots, might be a winner for Fat Boy Kim III (the last Emperor of North Korea) .