North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong Un asserted that North Korea has completed the construction of a nuclear war head that could be miniaturized in an intercontinental ballistic missile. He also claimed that if tested on Manhattan, New York City it would be able to annihilate the entire city and be more devastating than missiles developed by the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
North Korea’s unveiling of their nuclear capabilities comes on the heels of heightened tensions between South Korea and the stabilization of their border. The United States has gotten involved in order to aid the South as a result of military operations executed daily on the Korean Peninsula. The United Nations has gotten involved with the latest belligerent statements made by the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and has administered strict sanctions on the oppressive state.
It is widely believed that Jong Un is exaggerating the DPKR’s technical and scientific capabilities in an attempt to intimidate his southern counterparts. North Korean nuclear scientist Cho Hyoung Il was cited on the state run website saying, “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.”
North Korean nuclear scientists have been testing what the state claims are hydrogen bombs and not simple atomic ones. In addition, in February they were reported to have sent a rocket that put a satellite into orbit, which is believed to be another part of the ballistic missile testing program.
Although United States experts are confident that the missile program of North Korea is expanding and may have the capabilities to reach the west coast of the United States, they are skeptical of its capabilities to impact the east coast. Several experts argue that the U.S. should not undermine the efforts of North Korea, because although the missile and warhead may look different than American missiles, they may be able to pack the same punch.
Jeffery Lewis, a director at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, wrote in an article that “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 United Nations’ sanctions for North Korea’s continued missile presence in the Sea of Japan includes annual spring drills conducted by the United States and South Korea, which the DPKR considers “rehearsals for invasion.” Despite U.N. sanctions, North Korea continues to threaten the South with missile practice. According to a report by The Washington Post and Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to the claim in a statement by saying, “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 (North Korea’s Capital) regime.”
President Obama has not made an official statement in response to these reports and findings. Developments continued following the initial threat when a North Korean submarine was believed to have sunk while on a mission of some sort. The submarine that sunk is normally used for purposes of espionage in enemy waters and is capable of carrying about eight people. Due to the age and poor
maintenance of the vessel, it is susceptible to malfunction and likely to have been destroyed. However, that still leaves some concern for South Korean and American intelligence.
The updated antics of communist leader Kim Jong Un of North Korea is the latest in the nation’s efforts to intimidate its sworn enemies every couple of months. Although growing in capabilities, North Korea does not seem to pose any immediate threat to the homeland security of the United States. President Obama will possibly make a statement regarding the issue in the coming days, and it will most likely be a question of debate amongst presidential candidates involved in the 2016 race in the following months.
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor