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For years, politicians and TV experts have mollified Americans by claiming that the public shouldn't worry about North Korea attacking the United States with nuclear-tipped missiles because they have no intercontinental ballistic missiles yet. But neither rogue nations nor rogue groups need ICBMs to nuke U.S. military bases overseas or the continental U.S.

Allegedly, North Korea has successfully experimented with a small nuclear warhead and has greatly enhanced SCUD missiles so that they can fly longer, higher and carry heavier payloads than ever before ("North Korea vows more 'gift packages' of missile tests for U.S.," July 4). And they have demonstrated that they know how to launch SCUDs from mobile launchers. Thus, the North Koreans have assembled what they need for an asymmetric nuclear missile attack on U.S. troops in Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast from Alaska to Southern California. By retrofitting a small nuclear warhead to a much-improved SCUD, covertly loading the SCUD on a mobile missile and covertly loading the "loaded" launcher aboard a 300-400 foot long container ship, they have assembled a poor man's ICBM.

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Once a loaded SCUD missile launcher is lashed to the innocent-looking merchant ship, it could covertly steam within launch range of Okinawa or Guam or Hawaii, Alaska or even Seattle. If secretly refueled at sea or manned by a suicide crew (for a one-way trip to a launch point near the U.S. coast, they could "bore sight" either a ground burst warhead, or worse yet a high altitude nuclear explosion warhead. Such a high-altitude warhead, if it exploded above Hawaii or a West Coast city, could produce an electro-magnetic pulse that could destroy the electric grid for hundreds of square miles.

Thomas Strother, Annapolis

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