TRUMP AND TRUDEAU FUTURE PARTNERS IN CONTINENTAL MISSILE DEFENSE?
Is Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the verge of joining the United States in continental ballistic missile defense with President, Donald Trump, in the White House?
At yesterday’s joint press conference at the White House with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau President Trump cautioned that, “North Korea is a big, big problem and we will deal with that very strongly." Prime Minister Trudeau’s body language displayed unease, and he was not asked the same question or to respond to President Trump’s comments.
On Saturday evening while President Trump was dining and spending quality time with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, North Korea successfully test-fired a land-based variant of its KN-11 or Pukkuksong-2 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). The U.S. tracked the KN-11 Pukkuksong-2 flight as it travelled about 500 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. The KN-11 Pukkuksong-2 is a solid fuel, road-mobile, nuclear capable, IRBM with an estimated range of at least 2000 kilometers. It is a derivative or variant of the KN-11 Pukkuksong-1 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), which appears to have many similarities with China’s JL-1 SLBM. In this case, the missile was test-fire at an abnormally high trajectory making it splash down well-short of its full estimated range and Japan.
There are several points of significance in this test of the KN-11 Pukkuksong-2 IRBM. First, the KN-11 Pukkuksong-1 SLBM gives North Korea a survivable second strike weapon complicating any potential United States pre-emptive action against the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Secondly, the KN-11 Pukkuksong-2 land-based IRBM is solid fueled, and road mobile meaning that it can be launched with very little warning increasing the level of uncertainty of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear forces. It is important to note that the KN-11 Pukkuksong-2 was launched from a vehicle not previously seen by Western or South Korean intelligence. There is a view that this might be taken as the testing of a first stage of a North Korean Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that could reach well into the United States. Interestingly, all three North Korean missiles the BM-25 Musudan IRBM, KN-11 Pukkuksong-1 and 2 IRBMs, KN-08/14 ICBMs are using the same first stage closed cycle RD-4D10 engine variants used in Soviet/Russian R-27s SLBM.
In all this, it is important to keep in mind that Iran test-fired a BM-25 Musudan IRBM in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution on January 29th, that restricts Iran’s nuclear-tipped ballistic missile program. Additionally, Iran prepared to test-fire a Safir’s rocket, the first Iranian-produced expandable-launch vehicle, then backed away at the last minute. In the past, the Safir rocket was used by the Iranians to launch satellites going back to 2009. But the Safir is the very type of rocket that you could add two more stages to and develop an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile and guess where the engine is derived from and what it is similar to in its second stage rocket? It is believed to be the RD-4D10 engine variants used in Soviet/Russian R-27s SLBM and all the three of North Korea’s missiles mentioned above the BM-25 Musudan IRBM, KN-11 Pukkuksong-1 and 2 IRBMs, and the KN-08/14 ICBMs. Just how far North Korean and Iranian cooperation goes on the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile front is a matter of great concern and it appears to be close. By alternating test-firings they can spread the pain between them and perfect IRBMs and ICBMs and place the United States itself at risk.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s body language in reaction to President Trumps comments as mentioned showed unease perhaps because as North Korea’s ICBM program nears completion the missile tracks of any launch of North Koreas KN-08 or Hwasong-13 ICBMs take them down over Northern, Western and perhaps Central Canada. Future Iranian ICBM tracks would come down over Northern and Eastern Canada. The perfect location for a Missile Defense base on the East Coast of North America to confront nuclear-tipped ICBMs from Iran would be in Maine or perhaps Atlantic Canada, particularly Labrador. Prime Minister Trudeau may yet find himself being forced to join the United States in Ballistic Missile Defense out of national survival. For former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with President Obama in the White House, this was a ‘bridge too far.’ Yet, Trudeau and Trump with their joint communique announced that “United States and Canadian forces jointly conduct aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in defense of North America. We will work to modernize and broaden our NORAD partnership in these key domains, as well as in cyber and space.” Is continental missile defense a too much of a stretch, when you include “space?” Afterall, Nixon went to China.