Lizzie Cave 21′

On the fourth of September, 2017, South Korea conducted a live-fire exercise in response to a missile test that was held by North Korea on the third.  According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, this drill was carried out by their army and air force, as a simulation of a strike on the North Korean nuclear test site, involving ballistic missiles and fighter jets accurately hitting targets off the eastern coast of their country.

On September 3rd, North Korea gave an official word on its sixth nuclear test – that is, a test of a hydrogen bomb that they reported as successful. That explosion was the cause of 6.3 magnitude tremor, which meant that the bomb was the most powerful weapon to be tested by the country. Some time before the test, state media was released that showed their leader, Kim Jong Un, inspecting what was claimed to be a nuclear warhead that was placed inside of a missile, specifically an ICBM, required for long-distance delivery of warheads.

The nation claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb on that Sunday, a stronger breed of nuclear weaponry that uses fusion, rather than fission, as its nuclear reaction, which yields an increase in destructive potential.

Although it is nigh-impossible to verify the claim that the warhead was small enough to be fitted upon a missile without independent experts to examine the test, the tremors that resulted from the blast are helpful when it comes to calculating the power of the explosion.  Unfortunately, these estimates vary wildly.

A Norway-based group that monitors nuclear tests estimated that it had an explosive yield of 120 kilotons, where South Korean officials gave the far more moderate estimate of 50 kilotons. However, both of those are rather high – to put it in context, the Hiroshima bomb which resulted in the instantaneous death of multiple tens of thousands had a yield of only 15 kilotons.

This test is likely an extension of North Korea’s long-maintained desires for nuclear weaponry and long-range missile technology as a deterrent to the United States of America should they attempt to overthrow the regime of current ruler, Kim Jong Un. Their official statements make it clear that while they are open to dialogue, unless the US abandons what they call a ‘hostile policy’ against it, they will continue with nuclear aspirations.

It was said by a state news anchor, Ri Chun Hee, that the test was a “perfect success” and was the final step in the attainment of a state nuclear force; something that North Korea considers crucial to dissuading adversaries from attempting invasion or trying to force a change in leadership.

When it came to the nuclear testing, the overall international response was condemnation and discussion.

The test was called “profoundly destabilizing” in regards to regional security by a UN Secretary-General, and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council had been scheduled for discussion of the issue on that Monday.

That was the second meeting held in regards to North Korean nuclear activity, as one was held the week previous to discuss a missile that travelled over Hokkaido, a Japanese island.  And although a new round of sanctions was passed early August by that council, that would stifle the ability of the nation to bring in revenue globally, the only result of the meeting discussing the missile was a strong-worded statement.

As well, China, which was long viewed as North Korea’s sole ally within the region, condemned the test with a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry urging the country and regime to “face up to the firm will of the international community” when it came to nuclear activity, as well as stating that they should abide by the resolutions of the UN Security Council and “stop taking wrong actions that exacerbate the situation and are not in its [North Korea’s] own interest.”

Although there was much discussion of sanctions, in many ways the multitude that the international community have employed have failed, seeing as despite multi-national measures taken to cripple the economy in ways that would halt weapons testing, the Kim regime developed its nuclear program, and periods of mass starvation were exacerbated.

The nuclear test was foreseen by analysts for months, as evidence was found through satellite imagery and the fact that the country had, for multiple years, worked to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to better fit it for long-range travel.

Despite the multiple news about the tests and the international relations between the US and North Korea, it is believed that North Korea would not be make the first move when it comes to their arsenal, as the regime’s survival is valued above all else, and analysts say that the use of nuclear weaponry would begin a war Kim Jong Un knows he and his country could not win.