Two Clinton administration Defense Department appointees -- Secretary William J. Petty and Assistant Secretary Ashton B. Carter -- argue in a Washington Post op-ed column that North Korea cannot be allowed to test a long-range ballistic missile that would have no purpose other than to delivery a nuclear warhead, perhaps to the U.S.
Say the two:
[I]f North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive -- the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea's nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.It's hard to disagree with their assessment, isn't it?