In its 6th and largest test to date, North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb deep underground. The explosion triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake which Kim Jong Un described as a perfect success. The test came hours after Kim Jong Un showed off what he described as a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an ICBM.
North Korea said it conducted a sixth and significantly larger nuclear test Sunday, stepping up pressure on President Donald Trump in what is shaping up to be his biggest foreign policy crisis.
In a televised statement, North Korea described the underground explosion, which triggered a large earthquake, as a “perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for an ICBM.” Pyongyang said “the creditability of the operation of the nuclear warhead is fully guaranteed.”
The test came just hours after leader Kim Jong Un showed off what he described as a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The explosion at the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri in North Korea’s mountainous northeast triggered an initial magnitude-6.3 earthquake, followed by a magnitude-4.1 temblor that was possibly caused by a structural collapse, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The latest nuclear test was estimated to have a yield of as high as 100 kilotons—about 10 times the power of the North’s previous test and roughly five times that of the atomic bomb that the U.S. dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, according to Kim Young-woo, a South Korean lawmaker who is chairman of the legislature’s defense committee and received a briefing from military authorities.
“The Kim regime made the strategic decision to develop a nuclear armed ICBM that can strike the United States,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “It is in a sprint to deploy that capability, because it wants the world to recognize it before returning to diplomatic talks, and before sanctions become unbearable.”
However, analysts have been divided on whether North Korea could shrink a nuclear warhead to fit on the tip of a missile. Many also remain skeptical about whether a North Korean warhead can survive the strain of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
In photos published by North Korean state media before Sunday’s nuclear test, Mr. Kim gestured toward a bulbous silver device that appeared capable of holding the two nuclear devices that would be necessary for a thermonuclear blast.
A hydrogen bomb—technically known as a thermonuclear weapon—typically uses a smaller, primary atomic explosion to ignite a secondary, much larger blast. The first stage is based on nuclear fission—the splitting of atoms—and the second on nuclear fusion, which combines atoms, smashing them together and unleashing more energy. Additional stages can be added to increase its destructive force.
In North Korea’s statement before the nuclear test, Mr. Kim also threatened to detonate a nuclear device at a high altitude above the U.S. The detonation could emit a brief but powerful electromagnetic signal capable of disrupting swaths of the U.S. electrical grid, experts say.
Fears of such an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack by North Korea have circulated for years among some U.S. policy makers, though others have openly dismissed the possibility that Pyongyang could launch such a strike.
Trump’s Problem – South Korea
A US attack on North Korea would likely cause severe damage to South Korea and the entire region.
North Korea could strike back at Seoul and there would be nothing anyone could do about it unless we instantly took out 100% of North Korea’s military capability.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s Economy
Wikipedia provides this discussion of the South Korea Economy.
South Korea is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Highly urbanized at 92%, South Koreans lead a distinctive urban lifestyle; half of them live in high-rises concentrated in the Seoul Capital Area with 25 million residents and the world’s sixth leading global city with the fourth largest economy and seventh most sustainable city in the world.
South Korea is East Asia’s most developed country in the Human Development Index. Driven by a highly educated and skilled workforce, it has the world’s eighth highest median household income, the highest in Asia, and its singles in particular earn more than all G7 nations. Globally, it ranks highly in personal safety, job security, ease of doing business and healthcare quality, with the world’s third highest health adjusted life expectancy and fourth most efficient healthcare system. It is the world’s largest spender on R&D per GDP, leading the OECD in graduates in science and engineering and ranking third in the Youth Wellbeing Index.
South Korea Business
Home of Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia, South Korea was named the world’s most innovative country in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in business R&D intensity and patents filed per GDP. In 2005, it became the world’s first country to fully transition to high-speed Internet and today it has the world’s fastest Internet speed and highest smartphone ownership, ranking first in ICT Development, e-Government and 4G LTE coverage.
Global Fortune 500
What’s Trump to Do?
If Seoul went up in flames, the impact would likely be an immediate global recession.
Things could get much worse. China threatened to back North Korea if the US struck first. Is that a bluff?
For discussion, please see my August 11, article War Games: China Say It Will Prevent US From Attacking North Korea First (Is this a Game or is it Real?)
Mike “Mish” Shedlock