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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    THAAD missile test AlaskaSEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered discussions to be held with the United States on deploying additional THAAD anti-missile defense units following North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, his office said on Saturday.

    Moon also wanted the United Nations Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North, the presidential Blue House said following a National Security Council meeting.

    Two units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system have been deployed by the U.S. military in a southern South Korean region, with four more planned but delayed over concerns about their environmental impact.

    SEE ALSO: US says North Korea tested another missile — and it looks like an ICBM that could reach New York and DC

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    North Korea nuclear targets kim jong un

    North Korea launched its longest-range, most capable missile ever on Friday morning, and experts say that all of the US, besides Florida, now lies within range of a nuclear attack from Kim Jong Un.

    Fortunately, unlike an attack from a nuclear peer state like Russia, North Korea's less-advanced missiles would only be expected to hit a few key targets in the US. And even that limited attack would still take North Korea years to prepare for, since it still needs to perfect its missiles engines with more tests, in addition to guidance systems. It also needs to build and deploy enough of them to survive US missile defenses.

    But a North Korean propaganda photo from 2013 showing Kim Jong Un reviewing documents before a missile launch (pictured to the right) may have inadvertently leaked the planned targets for a nuclear attack on the US. On the wall besides Kim and his men, there's a map with lines pointing towards some militarily significant locations.

    BI Graphics north korea Nuke Targets

    In Hawaii, one of the closest targets to North Korea, the US military bases Pacific Command, which is in charge of all US military units in the region. San Diego is PACOM's home port, where many of the US Navy ships that would respond to a North Korean attack base when not deployed.

    Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana holds the US Air Force's Global Strike Command, the entity that would be responsible for firing back with the US's Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

    Washington D.C., of course, is the home of the US's commander-in-chief, who must approve of nuclear orders.

    All in all, the targets selected by North Korea demonstrate a knowledge of the US's nuclear command and control, but as they come from a propaganda image, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

    North Korea has developed nuclear weapons as a means of regime security, according to more than a dozen experts interviewed by Business Insider. If Kim ever shot a nuclear-armed missile the US's way, before the missiles even landed, US satellites in space would spot the attack and the president would order a return fire likely before the first shots even landed.

    As unique as Kim is among world leaders, he must know a swift deposal awaits him if he ever engages in a nuclear confrontation.

    SEE ALSO: Hawaii just released a guide for how to survive a nuclear attack amid high tensions with North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    thaad missile lockheed

    In the immediate aftermath of North Korea testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered talks with the US about adding more Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptor systems to South Korea.

    While the move may seem like a common-sense defensive measure, it actually indicates that South Korea may be getting ready for a fight with the North.

    The THAAD has a perfect record of intercepting shorter-range ballistic missiles in test conditions, but cannot handle the reentry speeds of an ICBM. Furthermore, if a missile fired from North Korea is landing in South Korea, it's not an ICBM.

    The THAAD can only block shorter-range missiles, and it does so with a powerful radar that scares the pants off the Chinese. China hates the THAAD because it fears the US could potentially use its powerful radar to negate China's nuclear ICBM force, and thereby erode its nuclear deterrent. China routinely protests THAAD and pressures South Korea economically into giving it up.

    So why would Moon take a huge political risk by increasing defenses against missiles that aren't even supposed to target his country?

    One possible explanation is that he's moving to defend his country against shorter-range missiles from the North in the event of a strike on Kim Jong Un. Seoul is within range of nuclear and conventional arms from North Korea that hold its 25 million inhabitants hostage. 

    But if South Korea could block the nuclear strikes, its air force could knock out North Korea's massive artillery installation, and US forces could move in and destroy the country's nuclear infrastructure. 

    SEE ALSO: US says North Korea tested another missile — and it looks like an ICBM that could reach New York and DC

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Xi Jinping military parade camo

    Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday presided over a massive military parade from an open-topped jeep, declaring, "The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be defended."

    And as China's show of force demonstrates, Beijing may have the will and the strength to replace the US as the world's defender of peace.

    "Our heroic military has the confidence and capabilities to preserve national sovereignty, security, and interests ... and to contribute more to maintaining world peace," Xi said at the parade, one day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing for its inaction regarding North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

    China's massive military modernization and increasing assertiveness have irked many of its neighbors in the region, and even as the US attempts to reassure its allies that US power still rules the day, that military edge is eroding.

    China showed off new, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that it says can reach the US in 30 minutes, along with its J-20 stealth interceptor jets. And Xi inspected thousands of troops drawn from the 2 million-strong People's Liberation Army's on its 90th anniversary.

    The historian Alfred McCoy estimates that by 2030, China, a nation of 1.3 billion, will surpass the US in both economic and military strength, essentially ending the American empire and Pax Americana the world has known since the close of World War II.

    China people's liberation army pla

    But China could achieve this goal patiently and without a violent struggle. China has employed a "salami-slicing" method of slowly but surely militarizing the South China Sea in incremental steps that have not prompted a strong military response from the US. However, the result is China's de facto control over a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual traffic.

    "The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy wrote in his new book, "In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power."

    China J 20 Stealth Fighter

    China's J-20 jet also most likely borrows from stealth secrets stolen from the US through a sophisticated hacking regime. Though China hasn't mastered stealth technology in the way the US has, the jet still poses a real threat to US forces.

    Meanwhile, the US is stretched thin. It has had been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years and in Iraq for 14, and it has been scrambling to curtail Iranian and Russian influence in Syria while reassuring its Baltic NATO allies that it's committed to their protection against an aggressive Russia.

    Under Xi, who pushes an ambitious foreign policy, China's eventual supremacy over the US seems inevitable.

    SEE ALSO: Trump just approved a plan for the US Navy to check Beijing in the South China Sea

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    hwasong 14 north korea icbm

    When North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, the US reportedly had observed Kim Jong-un for 70 minutes before the missile took off.

    A US official let that detail slip to the Diplomat's Ankit Panda, possibly signaling that the US could have struck the missile site and killed Kim, who was standing right there.

    But when North Korea last tested a missile that experts say could hit most of the US mainland, they did it in the dead of night from a previously unknown launch site with several Kim Jong Un lookalikes walking around the site.

    According to Jeffrey Lewis and Aaron Stein, missile proliferation experts who host the Arms Control Wonk podcast, this could very well have been a signal to US forces. 

    "Reports are it was launched from an unusual location in the heart of the country that we'd never seen it before... I think that was response to stories that we saw the missile 70 minutes prior to its launch," said Lewis.

    "This looked more operational," said Stein. "It would be launched from a place we might not necessarily think they would launch from or have ever seen evidence that they might launch from, and they can do it at any time of day."

    Notably, the ground-based mid course defense, the US's primary line of missile defense, has never been tested at night.

    Essentially, if North Korea really wanted to hit the US with a nuclear missile, a snap launch in the middle of the night like the one they displayed on Friday would work best, and the US would face a much harder task in stopping them.

    SEE ALSO: The US had a clear shot at killing Kim Jong Un on July 4 — here's why it didn't strike

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    hwasong 14 north korea icbm

    North Korea launched an intercontinental-ranged ballistic missile Friday that spent a whopping 47 minutes in the air, demonstrating a range that could easily strike the United States' West coast — but it failed critically in its last few seconds.

    The missile's reentry vehicle, or where North Korea would put its warhead, burned up during the final seconds before touching down on the ground, Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on press call organized by North Korea analysis website 38 North.

    Elleman said that footage of the reentry vehicle showed it brightly streaking across the sky at 6 kilometers per second before going dim just a few kilometers above the ocean.

    When a ballistic missile's reentry vehicle gets about 30 kilometers from earth, contact with air causes heat and friction that makes the incoming warhead glow. A successful warhead should then "continue to glow and increasingly glow until it impacts the ground, or in this case the ocean," said Elleman.

    The North Korean reentry vehicle, however, became "very dim," according to Elleman, indicating that it went to pieces before impact.

     

    While North Korea could have been using a lighter reentry vehicle to boost its perceived range, or purposefully designing the reentry vehicle to disintegrate to avoid the US or Japan from recovering, Elleman said those scenarios are unlikely. 

    icbm intercontinental ballistic missile trajectory north korea RTX39Y5I

    "The reentry vehicle sees its highest stress level at elevations above ten kilometers. They would need to test it in that environment. Purposefully destroying it before it has the opportunity to survive or fail would defeat the purpose of the test," said Elleman. 

    North Korea can now range US cities, but it can't expect to hit them with any reliability or accuracy, Elleman said, who added that the country would need two or three more tests to get the technology reliable.

    Shooting a missile straight up and down, as North Korea has done in recent tests, doesn't have the same challenges as shooting one on a trajectory that could actually cover ground. 

    If North Korea shot a missile at the US, it would enter the atmosphere at a shallow angle and undergo longer exposure to intense heat and pressure, which could destroy the missile or knock it off course.

    "The bottom line is if they want high reliability, they’re going to need to launch a missile on a flatter trajectory," said Elleman. Overflying a country and not just shooting into the ocean would be politically more dangerous for North Korea, and could potentially look like a real attack on another country.

    This video shows what it looks like when an ICBM reentry vehicle lands. 

    Reentry vehicles are not the only obstacle to a truly reliable system. North Korea must still master missile guidance and navigation. Despite these engineering challenges, North Korea gains a tremendous amount of knowledge from each launch, and the failure of the last stage does not mean the test was a waste.

    Elleman concluded that North Korea could achieve its dream — a reasonably reliable ICBM — by the end of the year.

    SEE ALSO: After the US had a shot at taking out Kim Jong Un, North Korea changed its launch tactics

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    DF-31AG

    At a parade touting Beijing's massive military might on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, China rolled out it's newest intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-31AG.

    Unlike the DF-31 before it, the DF-31AG boasts a range extended to above 6,800 miles, which means that most of the continental US is in range, according to the Center for International and Strategic Studies.

    Additionally, the DF-31AG can carry multiple nuclear warheads, or even a conventional warhead.

    As Zhou Chenming, a military observer based in Beijing, told the South China Morning Post: “We’re not in the cold war anymore, extremely powerful weapons like nuclear missiles are no longer the mainstream. We’ll still keep our nuclear strength, but when we face some regular threats we don’t need to use nuclear warheads to attack, but will resort to some conventional warheads instead.”

    Another upgrade to the survivability and lethality of the missile comes from the truck that carries it. Like the DF-31, it's mobile and therefore can evade attacking forces, hide, and fire from surprising locations. But unlike the previous model, the DF-31AG can actually go off road, further complicating any plans to neutralize China's nuclear might.

    Watch the rollout of the DF-31AG below:

     

    SEE ALSO: China held a massive military parade showing off its might — and it could surpass the US by 2030

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    Bunker buster hyunmoo

    After North Korea conducted its most successful-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday, the US and South Korea responded the way they always do — with a massive display of force.

    South Korea displayed a particularly interesting capability with a domestically-designed Hyunmoo-II missile launch that penetrated deep into an underground bunker and vaporized a dummy. 

    After the initial test of the new Hyunmoo variant on June 23, a spokesman for the South Korea's president said the missile"will be a key component in our kill chain to counter possible North Korean missile attacks."

    The launch resembled an operational strike as it was quickly announced, carried out, and devastated its target. 

    In the video below, watch the Hyunmoo-II penetrate through yards of solid earth before sending fireballs shooting out of either end of the bunker.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's latest ICBM test failed critically in the last few seconds before impact

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    NOW WATCH: These are the secret bunkers government officials will go to in the event of an attack


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    USS Nimitz operation inherent resolve

    After about two months of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier sitting off Syria's coast to support ground operations against ISIS, the USS Nimitz has arrived in the Persian Gulf to hammer whatever is left of the terror group. 

    “For the Nimitz Strike Group, today is game day,” said Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of Nimitz's carrier strike group said in a US Navy statement sent to Business Insider. “When you hear the roar of the jets today it is for real; it’s game on."

    The Nimitz and its accompanying carrier strike group, which the US Naval Institute reports includes a guided-missile cruiser and four destroyers, will support the US-led effort to eliminate ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

    Though ISIS continues to coordinate attacks abroad, the terror group has suffered incredible defeats in the territory it once declared as its "caliphate." In Iraq, ISIS's foundational city, Mosul, has been liberated by Iraqi security forces with the help of carrier-launched aircraft.

    In Syria, more than half of ISIS's last remaining stronghold, Raqqa, has been liberated. In late July, Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of US Special Operations Command, said that the US-led fight against ISIS had killed 60,000 to 70,000 militants.

    FILE PHOTO - Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand on their military vehicle in northern Deir al-Zor province ahead of an offensive against Islamic State militants, Syria February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

    "The enemy is very worn out," Maj. Gen. Najm al-Jabouri of the Iraqi Security Forces told Reuters on Monday. "I know from the intelligence reports that their morale is low," the general added.

    Meanwhile, a fresh carrier air wing aboard the Nimitz began operations against ISIS on Monday as US-backed forces on the ground continue to make progress. 

    However, the F-18 squadrons aboard the Nimitz face an increased risk, as the pilots aboard the George H.W. Bush saw the first air-to-air combat since 1999 after the US witnessed Syrian jets bombed US-backed forces.

     

    SEE ALSO: US-backed forces have retaken half of Raqqa from ISIS — Here's what the fighting on the ground looks like

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    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gestures as he delivers a joint statement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine July 9, 2017.  REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a statement amid muddled White House policy on North Korea on Tuesday that seems at odds with other voices in the Trump administration.

    "We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel," Tillerson said.

    This parts from CIA Director Mike Pompeo's statements at the Aspen Security Forum last month where he repeatedly mentioned separating nuclear "capacity and someone who might well have intent" to use it, referring to North Korea. 

    "We are not your enemy," Tillerson said to North Korea. "We are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond."

    Tillerson pressed the idea that the US would like "to sit and have a dialogue about the future that will give them the future they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout northeast Asia," without mentioning the US's goals in the dialogue.

    In the past, the US has tried to engage North Korea in the hopes that the country would denuclearize, but with North Korea's sweeping advancements in missile technology and its inclusion of nuclear weapons into its constitution, that seems increasingly unlikely. 

    Joel Witt, the cofounder of 38 North, a website that brings together experts on North Korea, told reporters on a press call on Monday that unlike past presidents, Donald Trump has a unique opportunity to make peace with Kim Jong Un.

    "It’s really the best point in time for a US president to do it," Witt said of peace talks with North Korea, referencing recent ICBM tests that show the US mainland is at risk of nuclear attack.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

    "Trump is insulated from any Republican criticism, which has stopped Democrats before. He thinks outside of the box. He might be the right person to do it," said Witt, who also admitted he could not predict the outcome.

    Tillerson seemed to acknowledge that the US is now willing to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea and even make security guarantees toward the Kim regime, one of the worst human rights offenders on the planet, to stop the threat of a nuclear conflict.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's latest ICBM test failed critically in the last few seconds before impact

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    the bomb film tribeca nuclear weapon out of controll

    • Netflix is now streaming an experimental documentary film about nuclear weapons.
    • "The Bomb" debuted in April 2016 at the Tribeca Film Festival as an immersive experience with 30-foot-tall screens and live music.
    • The filmmakers hope their movie inspires viewers to speak up about the existential threat of nuclear weapons.

    The year before I was born, the world almost ended. Twice.

    In September 1983, sunlight reflected off a patch of clouds, fooling a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that were never launched. A colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch, narrowly averting a nuclear holocaust.

    Two months later, US forces staged "Able Archer 83"— a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

    Today these and other chilling tales seem like dusty history to the population born after the Cold War and those too young to remember the conflict's many close calls.

    But the grave nuclear threat persists.

    Aging weapons systems, evolving terrorist threats, and a worryingly hackable digital infrastructure make the danger perhaps even greater today. That's the message that the makers of "The Bomb"— an ambitious, experimental documentary that Netflix began streaming on August 1— have tried to make breathtakingly real.

    "Nine countries have 15,000 nuclear weapons. That's an existential threat to mankind," said filmmaker Eric Schlosser.

    minuteman iii 3 icbm nuclear missile us dodSchlosser is the author of "Command and Control," an investigation into nuclear weapons accidents that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. To write the book, he spent more than six years steeped in declassified government materials and interviewed military experts, scientists, and "broken arrow" eyewitnesses.

    "The Bomb" is an unnarrated, non-linear film that riffs on the major themes in Schlosser's book. It leans heavily on archival nuclear weapons footage, roughly a third of which the public had never seen before the movie came out. Cold War-era documents and blueprints are also brought to life with eye-catching animations, and everything is synced to a trippy electro-rock musical score by The Acid.

    Co-directors Smriti Keshari, Kevin Ford, and Schlosser told Business Insider in April 2016 that their ultimate goal is to get people to feel something they will never forget — and then do something about it.

    Not your father's nuclear weapons documentary

    When "The Bomb" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, it was formatted as an immersive, 360-degree experience. The film now playing on Netflix is a "flat" version edited for a high-definition screen.

    The original version continues to travel the world, however — it was recently shown in Berlin, Germany, and Glastonbury, England — and projects the footage onto eight huge screens while "The Acid" jams out a live score.

    Keshari, Ford, and Schlosser said this experience is what makes "The Bomb" unique.

    he bomb film experience tribeca"Being surrounded by 30-foot-high screens upon which nuclear explosions are being projected, while really loud music plays," Schlosser said, "I think that's going to be a memorable life experience for anyone who sees it."

    Keshari likened it to a form of "shock treatment," meant to help people feel something about nuclear weapons instead of dismissing their existence.

    "These weapons are literally buried underground. They're out of sight, out of consciousness," Keshari said. "It's shocking how many we have, the countries that have them, how powerful these are, how much money is spent on them. And yet we're in complete denial of it."

    They have a point.

    The so-called Millennial generation has never experienced the dread of imminent thermonuclear war. For me, the existential threat of nuclear weapons didn't really click until a few years ago, when I wrote a story about a byproduct of the nuclear arms race.

    My fears, not to mention those of preeminent experts, have grown since reading about the January 2016 rhetoric of President Donald Trump, along with North Korea's maturing intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing programs.

    icbm intercontinental ballistic missile north korea hwasong 14 RTX3A3DK

    Consider me biased — I'm a friend of Keshari's, and I believe zero nuclear weapons on Earth is the safest number — but "The Bomb" is not your standard, long-winded, made-for-TV-with-commercial-breaks documentary about nuclear weapons.

    Roughly 30% of the movie is new footage from declassified films that the public has never seen.

    "Poor Kevin [Ford] has watched more nuclear weapons footage, I think, than any living person," Schlosser said.

    Ford said that dive into the archives will always haunt him.

    "The testing footage is what really stuck with me. The effects on people and on animals is just devastating," Ford said. "It's like the kid who's frying ants with a magnifying glass just to see what will happen." He added that he's "ruined dinner parties" by talking about his work.

    The end product of Ford's nearly year-long effort in the archives is the film's non-chronological yet meticulously edited stream of detailed blueprints, harrowing Cold War test footage, modern-day nuclear armament grandstanding, and foreboding music. (Though the filmmakers left out some of the most disturbing clips they encountered.)

    "People may have different feelings about 'The Bomb' when they see it, and that's legitimate," Schlosser said of its experimental approach. "But I feel confident nobody will have ever seen anything like this before."

    'Our silence is a form of consent'

    nuclear weapons bomb missile factory

    Today's nuclear arsenals are packed with a variety of exceptionally deadly weapons.

    Enhanced warheads, for example, are dozens of times more powerful than the relatively crude bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fusion bombs are also on alert and ready to launch, and they are thousands of times more powerful than any nuclear weapons detonated during World War II.

    The US and Russia together harbor roughly 90% of the world's supply of more than 14,900 nuclear weapons, and they're maintained under tight systems of control. The US is also spending $1 trillion to upgrade its devices. Nuclear terrorism continues to be a major point of concern, too.

    But the central thesis of "The Bomb"— one Schlosser made strongly in "Command and Control" as well — is that mortifying accidents have happened and will happen again, because people are human, and nuclear weapons aren't foolproof.

    the bomb atomic weapon test soldiers fallout"They're they deadliest machines ever made. And like all machines made by human beings, they're inherently flawed, and imperfect, and go wrong," Schlosser said. "They get connected to other machines — computer systems, nuclear command and control systems, early warning systems — and those all have problems in them. And that just makes those deadly machines all the more dangerous."

    The film's target audience is younger generations who will inherit these decades-old nuclear arsenals. The filmmakers hope to feed the movement to not only reduce nuclear stockpiles, but eventually abolish nuclear weapons altogether.

    "The [US] military is trying to minimize civilian casualties and use precision weapons. And nuclear weapons are the opposite of that," Schlosser said.

    "The Bomb" hopes to cut through the overwhelming amount of technical information out there about nuclear weapons and display them for what they are: machines. Beautiful, powerful, flawed, and indescribably dangerous human creations.

    "They're looked at as status symbols. They're looked at as heroic. And really, they're demonic," Keshari said. "They do nothing but kill, and kill humans in the millions."

    But the filmmakers don't want the film to simply bum people out.

    "There's no point in that. For me, this sort of knowledge should be empowering. Because to live in denial is a much greater danger than to have your eyes open and have the ability to do something about it," Schlosser said. "It helps you enjoy the day. It puts a lot of bulls**t worries into perspective and helps you not take anything or anyone for granted."

    Text at end of the film drives home this sentiment with a call to action.

    "A nuclear war anywhere in the world would affect everyone in the world. These weapons pose an existential threat. The widespread lack of knowledge about them, the lack of public debate about them, makes the danger even worse," it reads. "Our silence is a form of consent."

    Disclosure: The author of this post is friends with Smriti Keshari but has no financial stake in "The Bomb" or any of the companies involved in its production or distribution.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea has tested another intercontinental ballistic missile — here's what that is, how it works, and why it's scary

    DON'T MISS: If a nuclear bomb explodes nearby, here's why you should never, ever get in a car

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    NOW WATCH: Animated map shows every nuclear-bomb explosion in history


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    South Korean soldiers take part in an anti-terror drill in Seoul August 18, 2014. South Korean and U.S. forces began on Monday the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) drill, an annual joint exercise to test their defence ability against North Korea. The drill will last until August 29, according to local media.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    While North Korea defies international sanctions by testing ballistic missiles powerful enough to range US cities thousands of miles away, the US's annual joint military exercises with South Korea look set to further stoke the burgeoning crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

    "The situation is bad now, and it's going to get worse in August ... it's going to get much more dangerous in August," Joel Wit, a senior fellow at US-Korea Institute who previously worked on North Korea policy at the State Department, said on a call with reporters organized by 38 North, a website for informed analysis of the Korean defense situation.

    August is when the American and South Korean militaries hold Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, one of the world's largest annual military exercises and the target of harsh rebukes from North Korea.

    "That could create even more tension," Wit said. "I think we need to be to be very careful about aggravating the situation."

    "But there's a bargain here," Wit added, "a quid pro quo here." North Korea has previously offered to suspend its nuclear development if the US and South Korea suspend their annual war games. In the past, the US has rejected this offer because the drills are legal and North Korea's nuclear development is not.

    But with North Korea pushing closer to a nuclear-capable missile designed to accurately reach major US cities, Witt said it may be time to revisit that position.

    kim jong un north korea icbm test missile

    "It's really the best point in time for a US president to do it," Witt said of peace talks with North Korea.

    "Trump is insulated from any Republican criticism, which has stopped Democrats before," Witt said. "He thinks outside of the box. He might be the right person to do it."

    SEE ALSO: South Korea showed off a missile that could kill Kim Jong Un deep inside a bunker

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    Norfolk, Virginia

    All piers at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia have been cleared by security services after five bomb threats came in around on Wednesday morning, the Virginia Pilot reports.

    Base security swept the area with dogs which detected something in a vehicle around the USS Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman aircraft carriers on Pier 14, according to The Pilot. 

    A shelter-in-place order has also been placed on Piers holding the USS George Washington and the US Navy's new $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, which was commissioned just two weeks ago. 

    The Norfolk Naval Base represents one of the US Navy's most important bases and one of the few sites that can work on nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. 

    Explosive ordnance disposal, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and base fire and emergency response teams have all responded, according to multiple outlets.

    The incident follows an all-night search for an unidentified diver who witnesses reported swimming around the scene on Monday night. The search for the diver caused the base to go on lockdown at that time, according to WAVY, a local news station.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US' ground defense system successfully intercepted an ICBM in a simulation — but it may not be enough against a real threat from North Korea


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    hwasong 14 north korea icbm

    When North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday, a video from Japan's NHK national broadcaster captured the moment when its reentry vehicle sped back towards earth.

    Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Business Insider that the missile burnt up in the atmosphere and failed before impacting the ocean, citing the bright glow going dim as the missile neared earth.

    However, Joshua Pollack, a senior analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and the senior editor of the Nonproliferation Review, cast doubt on that assertion.

    "Did the RV break up? Or did it simply enter an area of low-lying cloud or fog?"tweeted Pollack

    A successful warhead should "continue to glow and increasingly glow until it impacts the ground, or in this case the ocean," according to Elleman. For North Korea, having a warhead survive would provide critical information for its research, so it would have been a priority for the missile test, as the whole point of a missile is to deliver a payload. 

    In the video below, judge for yourself if the reentry vehicle made it or fizzled out. 

     

    SEE ALSO: The North Korea crisis will get more dangerous in August — It's also Trump's best chance for peace

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    Trump Mattis cabinet meeting

    President Donald Trump compared the debate over how to proceed in Afghanistan to the disastrous renovation of one of his favorite New York City restaurants in a July meeting with his top generals, according to a report from NBC News.

    Trump has been weighing options for what to do in the nearly 16-year-old conflict since taking office, and has entertained ideas from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, as well as his National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. 

    But many in the room were stunned when the president compared their advice to that of a consultant to New York's famed "21" Club. Trump, according to NBC, said the consultant offered bad advice to the restaurant's owner while asserting that it may have been better to talk to the wait-staff instead.

    "Officials said Trump kept stressing the idea that lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant's waiters instead might have yielded a better result," NBC reported. "He also said the tendency is to assume if someone isn't a three-star general he doesn't know what he's talking about, and that in his own experience in business talking to low-ranking workers has gotten him better outcomes."

    The president also said in the meeting that he had spoken with a number of Afghanistan veterans, many of which offered critiques of NATO contributions and how the overall war was being handled.

    The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, has called for "a few thousand" more troops in order to break what he has described as a stalemate.

    Although the Pentagon characterizes the situation there as a stalemate, the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, released in February 2016, shows the situation has been deteriorating, especially since troop levels were lowered significantly after 2011.

    Of about 400 districts in Afghanistan, the Taliban controls, contests, or influences 171 of them, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

    Trump in June gave Mattis the authority to set troop levels there, though he has not yet sent additional forces.

    There are roughly 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, half of which come from NATO partners.

    SEE ALSO: What are we even doing in Afghanistan?

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    kim jong un north korea icbm test missile

    North Korea's latest long-range missile tests have all shared a common factor — they're shot nearly straight up in the air to avoid flying over any neighboring countries. 

    But according to Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, if North Korea wants a truly reliable intercontinental ballistic missile, it will have to eventually fire one at or over another country.

    When a missile fires almost vertically, the missile's warhead, or reentry vehicle, enters the earth at an angle almost perpendicular to the earth's surface. Elleman says this provides a symmetrical distribution of heat and pressure on the vehicle, which travels at many times the speed of sound. 

    But when an ICBM has to actually fire at an angle to cover long distances, as is the whole point of an ICBM, it faces much different challenges. "When it comes in at a flattened out trajectory, it will experience a longer heating time and mechanical loads or de-acceleration loads over a longer period of time," as well as asymmetrical pressure and heat, said Elleman.

    So while North Korea's latest missile tests tell them a lot about how to launch a rocket and drop a warhead back down, they don't tell them much about fighting the earth's atmosphere or how to guide the missile. 

    "The bottom line is if they want to have high reliability and understand that it’s reliable, they’re going to have to launch a missile on a flatter trajectory," said Elleman.

    north korea icbm

    But North Korea has run out of space to launch. Its last missile test landed off Japan's coast, some 600 miles away. If it ever wanted to shoot a missile on a more normal trajectory, it would have to overfly South Korea, China, Russia, or Japan. A missile speeding towards Russia, China, or the US, could, however, provoke a potentially devastating reaction.

    North Korea overflew Japan once with a failed satellite vehicle launch, but has avoided repeating the incident after an acute political backlash.

    The US has early warning satellites that track missile launches, and if it saw a North Korean missile streaking across the Pacific, the US may respond by firing interceptors or even a salvo of its own nuclear missiles.

    hwasong 14 north korea icbmNorth Korea's recent move to operational style launches further complicates the issue. When North Korea debuted its ICBM technology on July 4, the US had observed the site for 70 minutes prior to the launch, according to The Diplomat.

    If this launch had headed towards the US, intelligence services could have adequate context to assess that it's an isolated, test launch, and therefore not advise the president to return fire.

    But when North Korea launched its last missile, it did so in the dead of night at a previously unseen launch site. If the US suddenly saw that missile streaking across its radars, it would have limited time to respond.

    So North Korea has to pick between having a truly reliable missile or one that simply works more often than not, keeping in mind that the path to building a reliable missile risks accidental nuclear annihilation. 

    SEE ALSO: The North Korea crisis will get more dangerous in August — it's also Trump's best chance for peace

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    Simon Sinek is the author of four books, including his latest, "Leaders Eat Last." Sinek sat down with Business Insider to discuss how the Marines embody leadership as a culture. Following is a transcript of the video.

    It chokes me up every time when I hear stories of sacrifice and so I seek them out I seek out those people and I seek out those stories because it gives me fuel to keep doing what I do. 

    Well there’s many lessons we can learn from the Marine Corps.

    The title of the book “Leaders Eat Last” came from a conversation I actually had with a Marine it was a three-star general who’s in charge of all Marine Corps training officer and enlisted and I asked him when I was talking to him a very simple question - what makes Marines so good at what they do? And he answered simply “officers eat last”

    And if you visit any chow hall in any Marine base anywhere in the world what you will see when they eat at chow time is that all the Marines will line up in rank order. The most junior Marine will always eat first, the most senior Marine will always eat last. No order is given, there is no rule that says they will have to do this and nobody tells them they have to. It’s one of the funny ways that it manifests when we see their perspective on leadership how it shows up - it’s just one of the funny ways it shows up because they view leadership as a responsibility, not as a rank. It’s not about being in charge it’s about taking care of those in your charge. That’s what leadership really is and the Marines embody it as a culture and it’s sort of kind of amazing to see actually. 

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    US Coast Guard Alaska

    In a service whose mission includes rescuing lives in peril, it’s hard to pick and choose legends among so many heroes. The Coast Guard’s history is filled with ordinary men who rose to the challenges presented by extraordinary circumstances.

    Here is a list of 13 folks who embodied the Coast Guard ethos:

     

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    1. Douglas Munro

    The ultimate hero of the Coast Guard is arguably Douglas Munro.

    As he commanded a group of Higgins boats at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Munro coordinated the evacuation of more than 500 Marines who came under heavy fire, using his boat as a shield to draw fire.

    During the evacuation, he was fatally wounded, but his last words were, “Did they get off?”



    2. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty

    Lt. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty was the first Coast Guard prisoner of war since the War of 1812 and served at the front lines of the Battle of Corregidor as the Japanese took the Philippines.

    A 1934 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy where he was an accomplished athlete, Crotty served as an skilled cutterman before being attached to a Navy mine warfare unit. After several different positions in the Pacific Theater, Crotty found himself attached the Marine Corps Fourth Regiment, First Battalion, as the Japanese forces attacked the last American stronghold.

    One eyewitness report says that Crotty supervised army personnel manning a howitzer dug-in until the American surrender on May 6, 1942. Crotty was captured by the Japanese and taken to Cabanatuan Prison, where he died of diphtheria.



    3. William Flores

    On January 28, 1980, the USCGC Blackthorn collided with a tanker in Tampa Bay, Florida. Seaman Apprentice William Flores, just eighteen years old and a year out of boot camp, stayed on board as the cutter sank, strapping the life jacket locker open with his belt, giving his own life jacket to those struggling in the water, and giving aid to those wounded on board.

    He was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard’s highest non-combat award, the Coast Guard Medal.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    J20 Inverted

    China's recent military parade included several new weapons systems and a flyover by the J-20, a stealth jet that many think incorporates stealth technology stolen from the US into a design built to destroy weak links in the US Air Force.

    Russia has also been testing a stealth jet of its own that integrates thrust-vectoring technology to make it more maneuverable, which no US jet can match.

    But the US has decades of experience in making and fielding stealth jets, creating a gap that no amount of Russian or Chinese hacking could bridge.

    "As we see Russia bring on stealth fighters and we see China bring on stealth fighters, we have 40 years of learning how to do this," retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Barrett told Defense News' Valerie Insinna at a Mitchell Institute event on Wednesday.

    While China's J-20 seeks to intercept unarmed US Air Force refueling planes with very-long-range missiles, and Russia's T-50 looks like a stealthy reboot of its current fleet of fighters, a senior scientist working on stealth aircraft for a US defense contractor told Business Insider that other countries still lagged the US in making planes that could hide from radars.

    The scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of their work, told Business Insider the J-20 and T-50 were "dirty" fighters, since the countries lack the precision tools necessary to painstakingly shape every millimeter of the planes' surfaces.

    Barrett said of China's and Russia's stealth attempts, "There are a lot of stuff hanging outside of these airplanes," according to Defense News, adding that "all the airplane pictures I've seen still have stuff hanging from the wings, and that just kills your stealth."

    Additionally, the US has stealth-fighter tactics down, while China and Russia would take years to develop a similar playbook.

    Two Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighter jets flies during a display at the Avalon Airshow in Victoria, Australia, March 3, 2017.    Australian Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS

    Meanwhile, the US has overcome the issue of external munitions blowing up a plane's radar signature by having internal weapons bays and networking with fleets of fourth-generation aircraft.

    Because the F-35 and F-22 can communicate with older, non-stealth planes, they can fly cleanly, without weapons hanging off the wings, while tanked-up F/A-18s, F-15s, or F-16s laden with fuel, bombs, and air-to-air missiles follow along.

    The F-35s and F-22s can ensure the coast is clear and dominate battles without firing a shot as older planes fire off missiles guided by the fifth-gen fighters.

    SEE ALSO: The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier just hit the Persian Gulf to hammer whatever is left of ISIS

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    • kim jong un north korea icbm test missileA top missile analyst says the ICBMs North Korea shows off may be propaganda that has fooled experts and the military.
    • Most analysis of North Korean missiles comes from images released from Pyongyang, and they could be purposefully deceptive.
    • The real ICBM program may be a hidden silo-based missile, which would be much more dangerous.

    North Korea has shocked the world by making huge strides in missile technology since debuting an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, but according to James Kiessling, the road-mobile missile may just be an act of deception.

    Kiessling, who works at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, gave Business Insider his personal views on North Korea, which do not represent the Pentagon's official stance.

    "If you’re really concerned about an ICBM from anyone, go back and look at history for what everyone has ever done for ICBMs," said Kiessling. "All early liquid ICBMS are siloed."

    Through a painstaking analysis of imagery and launch statistics from North Korea's missile program, Kiessling has concluded that the road-mobile, truck-based missiles they show off can't actually work as planned, and may instead be purposeful distractions from a more capable missile project.

    In a paper for Breaking Defense, Kiessling and his colleague Ralph Savelsberg demonstrated a model of the North Korean ICBM and concluded its small size made it basically useless for reaching the US with any kind of meaningful payload. 

    History suggests that building a true liquid-fueled ICBM that can be transported on a truck presents huge, if not insurmountable problems, to designers.

    "The US and the Soviets tried very hard and never managed to reach a level of miniaturization and ruggedness that would support a road-mobile ICBM," said Kiessling, referring to the minaturization of nuclear warheads needed to fit them onto missiles. 

    ICBMs that use liquid fuel, as North Korea's do, are "very likely to crumple or damage the tankage" while being carted around on a bumpy truck. 

    icbm intercontinental ballistic missile north korea hwasong 14 AP_17185312955179

    "While it may not be impossible, it’s bloody difficult and extremely dangerous," to put a liquid-fueled ICBM on a truck, according to Kiessling.

    Instead, the US, Soviets, and Chinese all created silo-based liquid-fueled missiles, as the static missiles are more stable and less prone to sustaining damage. 

    But there's no evidence of North Korea building a silo for missile launches, and Kiessling said that could be due to a massive deception campaign that may have fooled some of the world's top missile experts.

    Kiessling thinks that North Korea has actually been preparing for a silo-based missile that combines parts of the Hwasong-14, its ICBM, with its space-launch vehicle, the Unha. Both the Unha and the Hwasong-14 have been tested separately, and Kiessling says they could easily be combined.

    This analysis matches the comments of Mike Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who told Business Insider he saw the Hwasong-14 as an "interim capability" that North Korea was using to demonstrate an ICBM as quickly as possible.

    Elleman believes that North Korea well develop a "heavier ICBM" that "may not be mobile," but can threaten the entire continental US and carry a heavier payload, including decoys and other penetration aides. 

    titan 2 missile silo steve jurvetson flickr ccby2 7332367192_877fdacffe_k

    But other prominent analysts disagree with Kiessling's model, saying he incorrectly judged the size of the Hwasong-14. To that, Kiessling says that North Korean imagery, which has all been purposefully released by a regime known to traffic in propaganda, is geared towards deception. 

    "One of the hardest problems imaginable is to find something you’re not looking for," said Kiessling, of a possible missile silo in North Korea.

    "If I was in the place of Kim Jong Un, and I wanted to have a cleverly-assembled ICBM program, I’d do it the way everyone else does it," said Kiessling, referring to silo-based missiles. "But at the same time, you run a deception program to distract everyone else from what you’re doing until you’re done."

    A silo would also prove an inviting target for any US strikes on North Korea, as the target can't hide once its found. If the US were to find out that North Korea hadn't succeeded in miniaturizing its warheads enough to fit on its mobile missiles, a smaller-scale strike against fixed targets may seem like an attractive option.

    SEE ALSO: If North Korea wants a reliable ICBM, it's going to have to fire one towards somebody

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