The once mighty British Royal Navy is unable to send any meaningful number of ships to support an interdict and inspect program against North Korea.
Plans to impose a blockade of North Korea to prevent the regime acquiring nuclear weapons were thrown in disarray last night.
China said it would oppose attempts to inspect suspect vessels and Royal Navy commanders said Britain was unable to make a significant military commitment to the proposed United Nations naval task force.
The United States is leading attempts to put together a force that would prevent suspect cargoes from entering the Marxist dictatorship and stop North Korea exporting weapons of mass destruction technology to rogue regimes such as Iran and terrorist groups.
Attempts to assemble the force began in earnest yesterday after the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution late on Saturday imposing tough arms and financial sanctions against Pyongyang following its claim that it had test-fired a nuclear warhead last week.
The UN resolution prompted an angry response from North Korea, which said it would regard the imposition of sanctions as an act of war and described the resolution itself as "gangster-like".
I had no idea how diminished the Royal Navy has become, but assuming these counts are accurate, they cannot muster enough surface ships to equal one US carrier task force.
On a vaguely related front, the US NORAD command center at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado is being mothballed.
During the long nuclear standoff with Moscow, the nation's super-secret nerve center was a symbol of both Cold War might and apocalyptic dread, depicted in such movies as "WarGames" in 1983. But with the end of the Cold War, the war room is being put on "warm standby" to save money.
A staff will keep it ready to resume operations at a moment's notice if a blast-hardened command center becomes necessary, but the critical work is being shifted to Peterson Air Force Base, about 10 miles away.
"In today's Netted, distributed world we can do very good work on a broad range of media right here," Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said from his Peterson headquarters. "Right there at that desk, including one push-button to the president."
Moreover, the U.S. military says the countries that have succeeded the Soviet Union as the main threat to this country — hostile states such asand — do not have the weapons to take out a command center in Colorado.
I can't say as I believe this to be a good development.