Monday, March 14, 2016

The Schoolboy Taunting the Headmaster

"The H-bomb developed by the Soviet Union in the past was able to smash windows of buildings 2,000 kms away and the heat was strong enough to cause third-degree burns 200 km away."
"Our hydrogen bomb is much bigger than the one developed by the Soviet Union."
"If this H-bomb were to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile and fall on Manhattan in New York City, all the people there would be killed immediately and the city would burn down to ashes."
Cho Hyong Il, nuclear scientist, North Korea

"It does not look like U.S. devices, to be sure, but it is hard to know if aspects of the model are truly implausible or simply that North Korean nuclear weapons look different than their Soviet and American cousins."
"The size, however, is consistent with my expectations for North Korea."
Jeffrey Lewis, director, East Asia non-proliferation program, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, U.S.A.
North Korea's state media reported its leader as saying the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles. (Reuters)

Doesn't the Kim regime enjoy its threats against its neighbour and the United States! The hermit regime seems oblivious to the reality that threats can have consequences that could be irreversible. Or perhaps it has taken full recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran's success in fending off the opprobrium-through-sanctions of the UN Security Council-plus Germany, succeeding in negotiating its way to accessing its frozen funds and alerting the international community that Iran is back in business.

North Korea under the Kims has never gone out of business. But it has alarmed South Korea sufficiently by its arrogant, threatening posturing blasting another few nuclear devices, that the more immediate consequence was the shuttering of the Kaesong industrial zone, leaving thousands of North Koreans unemployed and placing the country under deeper economic constraints. None of which puts a halt to research on more powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles and miniaturized warheads.

January's fourth nuclear test, purported by Kim Jong Un to be a verifiable hydrogen bomb, was followed the next month by the launch of an ostensible rocket, placing a satellite into orbit; both claims widely debunked, which doesn't quite defang the threat quotient implicit in the claims by the North. Particularly since no one in authority is prepared to give too short-shrift to the danger inherent in a regime capable enough to have engineered long-range missiles and nuclear devices to begin with.

Intelligence agencies and technological experts agree that the West Coast of the United States might conceivably be in reach of those intercontinental ballistics, although it is yet unlikely that the North could manage to hit the East Coast. Given its track record in North Korean scientists diligently working to please their Glorious Leader, and given his reckless goading of all those he considers enemies and that is just about everyone and anyone, anything could result to a surprise outcome.

Certainly, South Korea takes all of this seriously enough: "If the North continues to make provocations despite the stern warnings made by our military, it is inevitable for us to roll out a strict response that may lead to the destruction of the Pyongyang regime", was the warning issued by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. Persuasively informing North Korea that it is not the only Korea able to issue threats, and planning to back them up.

If only.

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