North Korea is a Serious Nuclear Threat
North Korea’s has become a serious Nuclear threat to the world as demonstrated by the country’s progress in massively increasing the yields of its nuclear weapons, heightening the threat posed by its ballistic missiles, according to a U.S. website monitoring the region.
38 North said it is significant that relevant agencies, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, revised upward their initial estimates of the seismic magnitude of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 from 5.8 to 6.1.
“This revision is significant because, rather than providing an equivalent yield of about 120 kilotons derived from the lower magnitude estimates, the application of standard formula with appropriate constants shows that the yield can now be estimated to have been roughly 250 kilotons (one quarter megaton),” it said in an analysis.
This yield is close to what 38 North previously estimated to be the maximum containable yield for the test site in Punggye-ri, northeastern North Korea, it added.
It also increases the danger of the regime’s ballistic missile program.
“Regardless of whether this most recent test was an operational warhead for an ICBM or simply a device, the yield of the test clearly shows North Korean progress in increasing the yields of their nuclear weapons,” the analysis said. “The significance of this is that it has the potential to dramatically increase the threat posed by its Strategic Force (responsible for ballistic missiles) as individual nuclear warheads potentially now have 10-times (or more) greater destructive power.”
North Korea would need fewer nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy a given target. With the current missile inventory, it could also target larger areas.
“If the claim that the device just tested has a variable yield is true (from tens to hundreds of kilotons), then this may also imply the North Koreans intend to adopt an expanded policy of using nuclear weapons, including tactical use, in addition to deterring threats to existence of the state,” 38 North said. “By doing so, they would join countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, etc. that have policies regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, clearly further destabilizing the Korean peninsula situation.”
38 North is a website devoted to informed analysis of North Korea.
While it strives to break new ground, the site’s main objective is to bring the best possible analysis to both seasoned North Korea watchers and general audiences alike. Too often analysis of the North is permeated by inexperience, littered with inaccurate information or grounded in poorly deduced reasoning. We believe no one really knows for sure what is going on in North Korea, but we can at least try to understand the possibilities. Similarly, anyone who professes certainty should be viewed with the greatest skepticism.
To accomplish these objectives, 38 North harnesses the experience of long-time observers of North Korea and others who have dealt directly with North Koreans. It draws on other experts outside the field who might bring fresh, well-informed insights to those of us who follow North Korea.
38 North covers not only North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, but digs beneath the surface of political, economic, social and other developments. North Korea is not a hermit kingdom, but rather a country that has been in the throes of change, good and bad, for over a decade. Those changes have important implications for the Korean peninsula, the East Asian region and the international community.
38 North strives as much as possible for ideological balance, publishing opposing opinions, and utilizes various technologies to analyze military, economic, social and other developments north of the DMZ. While it is an American-based project, it draws on experts from around the world to provide international perspectives as well.
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