Cameron, David Korea (North)
David Cameron made the extraordinary claim yesterday that North Korea could attack Britain.
The Prime Minister said he knows Communist dictator Kim Jong-un has access to missiles that can hit the UK.
The threat showed that Britain must keep its
Trident nuclear deterrent to combat ‘nuclear blackmail’, he said.
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Threat: David Cameron stands next to Lieutenant Commander Neil Lamont RN during his visit to the Vanguard Class Submarine HMS Victorious on patrol off the west coast of Scotland
Warning: David Cameron speaks with Commander John Livesey RN on the Vanguard Class Submarine HMS Victorious off the west coast of Scotland. He has insisted that Britain must renew it nuclear deterrent
Defence: The UK has four Vanguard-class submarines each armed with Trident missiles
David Cameron described dictator Kim Jong-Un's behaviour as 'worrying and threatening'
But his claims were immediately disputed by experts who say North Korea does not have missiles that can reach Europe – and cannot mount nuclear warheads on them either.
And they sparked comparisons with the claims
made by Tony Blair to justify invading Iraq ten years ago.
Mr Blair produced a ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It falsely claimed that Iraq could hit British targets with chemical weapons in just 45 minutes and was used to fuel the rush to war.
North Korea uses its
Uriminzokkiri website’s Twitter feed and Flickr stream to send out
regime propaganda, such as photos of Kim Jong-un with military chiefs.
But as tensions rose on the Korean
peninsula, these halted yesterday. Instead, one showed a picture of
Kim’s face with a pig-like snout and a drawing of Mickey Mouse on his
chest. Underneath, the text read: ‘Threatening world peace with ICBMs
and Nuclear weapons/Wasting money while his people starve to death.’
Another posting said, ‘We are Anonymous’ – the name of a hacker activist group. A statement purporting to be from the hackers claimed that they had compromised 15,000 user records on Uriminzokkiri.com and other sites.
The Prime Minister has warned that it would be 'foolish' for Britain to consider abandoning Trident because the country faces an increased threat of nuclear attack from regimes including North Korea
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with navy personnel during his visit to the Vanguard Class Submarine HMS Victorious off the west coast of Scotland on the day he insisted Britain must renew it Trident nuclear deterrent
David Cameron, speaking with Commander John Livesey RN, said he will firm up his longstanding commitment to a £20billion like-for-like replacement for the submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent
Mr Cameron spoke out after North Korea warned the ‘moment of explosion is near’ and declared its military has been cleared to attack the US mainland with nuclear weapons.
As the tense stand-off and war of words in the region intensified, the US admitted intelligence reports showed the North could be planning to launch mobile ballistic missiles in the coming days and weeks.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Pyongyang’s military had moved to its east coast a missile with ‘considerable range’ that could threaten US bases in the region as well as Japan.
David Cameron boarding a helicopter in Afghanistan
in 2009 and on board the Vanguard Class Submarine HMS Victorious off the
coast of Scotland
On a visit to Scotland, Mr Cameron branded Kim Jong-un’s behaviour ‘worrying and threatening’ and said North Korea has ‘extremely dangerous technologies’.
He added: ‘The fact is… North Korea does have missile technology that is able to reach us. They can hit the whole of the United States.
‘If they are able to reach the whole of the United States they can reach the rest of Europe too – they can reach us too. That is a real concern.’
Maintaining the UK’s submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent was a necessary ‘insurance policy against the risks that there are in the world’, he said.
But international security experts last night cast doubt on his extraordinary claim about the threat posed by North Korea.
They said Pyongyang’s most powerful weapon – test-fired in December – has a range of 3,700 miles. It can reach no further than Alaska, and certainly not the UK.
The poster here reads 'safeguard to the death' as the North Korean army said it had approval to attack the United States with its nuclear weapons
Mark Fitzpatrick, director of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank, said: ‘The Prime Minister was certainly correct as to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea and the uncertainties of the future.
‘But North Korea does not have any missile capabilities that could hit Britain and it is difficult to envision circumstances when North Korea ever would want to attack the UK even if they could.’
Labour MP Paul Flynn said: ‘North Korean missiles would be lucky to reach South Korea given their previous record. There’s as much truth in this claim as there was in the claim that Iraq could hit British interests in 45 minutes.
‘This is clearly utter fiction and wild exaggeration. It is desperate scaremongering.’
While experts do not believe North Korea has the capacity to strike at the US mainland, American bases in South Korea, Japan and the Pacific island of Guam could be within range of Pyongyang’s conventional missiles.
North Koreans hold posters of their previous leaders, Kim Il-sung, left, Kim Jong-Il
Washington has responded to the mounting crisis by moving mobile missile defence shields to Guam, while F/A-18 Hornet fighters are being moved to the Philippines.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged that North Korea is a ‘real and clear danger’.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang announced it would restart a plutonium reactor it shut in 2007. A US research institute said satellite imagery shows that construction needed for the restart has begun.
Diplomats and regional analysts believe Kim’s sabre-rattling rhetoric and threats to restart his nuclear programme could be part of a strategy to gain concessions from other nations and to win much-needed political credibility among his troops and people.
However, the fear is that the young, inexperienced and potentially reckless leader is in danger of setting off a chain of events that could lead to conflict.