I'm sure everyone has heard about the latest round of tough guy rhetoric out of North Korea. And like many, I'm not too worried about nuclear capable missiles. Yes, they've moved two mid-range missiles to their coast for "testing" purposes, but they haven't proven the ability to actually hit anything. Remember, the Pacific Ocean is large. North Korea can certainly do serious damage to Seoul with its conventional artillery. There would certainly be some regional economic impact between South Korea, Japan, and maybe even China with stability questions.
No, I don't see anything so direct from North Korea that would allow the United States and South Korea to automatically retaliate.
Sailing the nuclear seas...
Long Beach operations are 24 hours a day. A few years ago, they were forced to implement a fee on any container handled during normal business hours, as an incentive to use the new night-time operations. Now, both the daytime and nighttime operations of the Port of Long Beach are at full capacity.
Any disruption at that port would cause the US economy to come grinding to a halt. US imports were basically backlogged for a year after the ILWU struck for a couple months in 2001. Docking and loading schedules are often down to the hour, and there's much, much more to economic logistics than just loading and unloading an ocean container. Warehousing, border protection, trucking, rail hubs, and various other necessary support functions can be found at our nation's ports.
All of these would be seriously affected with a small or dirty nuclear blast.
And how easy would it be to smuggle one in, and set a timer for detonation? Not very difficult. Shipping manifests can be altered, bribes are not unheard of in China, and out of a population of 1.8 billion people there are sure to be some anti-American reactionaries.
In the United States? Authorities took the "all cargo to be inspected" mandate off the table late 2012, and only about 4-5% of ocean cargo is inspected. Add the effects of the budget sequestration, and you'll see more border patrol cut at the ports and siphoned off to the southern border to protect against "illegals."
I'm sorry, but the threat of an "illegal" taking sub-minimum wage jobs away from unwilling Americans pales in comparison to our entire economy coming to a halt because we couldn't inspect enough ocean containers.Collapse this post