Heralding A New War?

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do;
Our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” ~ C.S. Lewis

North Korea has been the white elephant of the peninsula ever since the United States was unable to defeat the regime of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (how an effective one party dictatorship can claim to be democratic is beyond me) although I guess they didn’t lose the war as technically it did not end there is only a cease fire in place and the division of the country at the 38th parallel and the one thing that you don’t want is a white elephant with thermonuclear bombs.

It has never been a well kept secret that North Korea has been working on their nuclear program on and off for the last 20 years or so, they have the capability of developing and deploying the things at least locally with 3 successful tests over the last 10 years with the weapon yield increasing exponentially with each subsequent deployment (the first being an estimated yield of 0.7 – 10kt and the most recent 6 – 40kt) reaching a 400% increase in blast yields from their first successful test. In a warfare based deployment Japan bore the brunt of two nuclear warheads Fat Man and Little Boy with the larger of the two being a 21kt yield meaning as of now they have the capability to potentially deliver a warhead with twice the destructive force of what was dropped on Nagasaki and the destruction that caused is well documented. http://www.nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ a handy little website for mapping predicted effects of a nuclear blast shows that 3 40kt bombs would be enough to pretty much wipe all of Seoul off the map.

Now given the 400% increase over the last 6 years if that rate is able to continue and given they have now appeared to have reverse engineered the hardware required to further process and enrich the resources of uranium that they have within their borders it means that potentially warheads in the megaton ranges would not be unreasonable to accept, now a single 5MT warhead would be able to effectively wipe Tokyo off the map, and in the case of Seoul not only the city but a fair amount of the surrounding countryside would also be gone in an instant. The ability to make a nuclear warhead is one thing, you learn the basics when you study Physics, essentially all you require is enough fissionable material to reach critical mass and boom and when you have access to Uranium in your country mass producing these when you have the technology is easier than trying to come up with something from scratch the issue then becomes delivery. Thankfully they still seem to be somewhat lacking in this regard, however their home grown Taepodong missile program does seem to be gaining traction.

The fact that their tests to date have failed does allow a sigh of relief to be breathed as although they may be nuclear they at least can’t deploy them *yet*. Now a country that can make several nuclear warheads from scratch with massive trade embargoes on a whole bunch of stuff should be able to solve the issue of a suitable delivery system if given enough time, and the trouble with this missile program is the range it is theoretically capable of aiming for, the lower section of the US being a potential target for example; The plus side for Australia however is we are a tad out of range to really be a target. But if they choose to downsize their range to pull it off it still spells trouble for South Korea or Japan.

Dropping a 1-5MT nuke on Seoul would effectively smash the United States military presence in the region not to mention the command structure of South Korea and even equipped with outdated tanks and weapons the sheer weight of numbers of the armies of the North they could effectively take a reasonable amount of South Korea in under a week, but if they wanted to send a message to the West Japan would be a good target as a lot of our tech comes out of there not to mention all the trading that takes place on a daily basis on the Nikkei.

Thankfully their closest friend in China is pushing them to behave, however China is also a growing military might in its own right, and they have eyes set on several islands as it is and old scores with the Japanese from their annexing and subsequent mistreatment of the Chinese before and during World War 2 so it would be interesting to see which way that would swing as it would give them an opportunity to act on the confusion caused by the little guy to move in and “liberate” and solidify a position whilst the rest of the world scrambles, and to be honest once entrenched it is usually easier to condemn actions but not reciprocate for fear of that sword being brought down on you.

The main cause I have for concern with North Korea is the change over of leadership, he is young and yet to really prove himself or test his mettle aside from some saber rattling and internal cleansing. Overall it does not appear to be the most stable of environments there, and nuclear weapons and nothing necessarily to lose are not a good combination I really hope it doesn’t come to that but the next decade on the peninsula will be interesting, and reminds me somewhat of the introduction to the video game Homefront released in 2011 with some disturbing parellels.

Sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/09/25/north-koreas-nuclear-program-may-now-be-self-sufficient-why-thats-scary/
http://www.nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

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