Wednesday, January 06, 2016

North Korea Successfully Tests Hydrogen Bomb

by JASmius

I guess Kim Jong-Un wasn't bluffing after all:

North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, the fourth time it has detonated a nuclear device and a move that dramatically escalates tensions on the peninsula with neighbors South Korea and Japan.

The regime in Pyongyang detonated a hydrogen device for the first time at 10 a.m. local time, its official Korean Central News Agency said. The explosion was initially detected as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake by the U.S. Geological Survey.

North Korea carried out the test “safely” and “perfectly,” according to KCNA, describing the detonation as an act of “self- defense” from its enemies. The regime “has confidently risen to the ranks of nuclear powers with hydrogen bombs by perfectly succeeding in the historic test of a hydrogen bomb,” Korean Central Television anchorwoman Ri Chun Hui said.

This latest provocation has started the next round of the dance of the mayflies all over again:

North Korea's claim that it carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test Wednesday drew swift condemnation from friends and foes alike.

[Red] China said it "firmly opposes" its neighbor's actions while others blasted it as an intolerable provocation that must be punished.

Which it actually doesn't, or they would take out the pot-bellied pig swiftly and summarily.

Several governments promised a firm response as tensions soared again in Northeast Asia, with many calling for further action by the United Nations against the North, which is already subject to an array of international sanctions.

Which means there will be no response at all, because diplomacy and "international sanctions" are clearly and laughably ineffective, and military action is not an option because the NoKos already hold South Korea hostage just from their overwhelming conventional artillery advantage targeted at Seoul, and nuclear action is not an option because Red China would massively retaliate, whether on its own part or on Pyongyang's behalf.  That being the advantage for Beijing of leaving "the hermit kingdom" right where it is.

The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency session later Wednesday.

[Red] China, North Korea's most important diplomatic and economic partner, took a more nuanced stance than others, saying it "firmly opposes" the test and would summon Pyongyang's ambassador for "solemn representations".

It added that dialogue was the "only practical way to resolve the relevant issue".

i.e. They'll make the kerfuffle all blow over - or else.

And, not to leave this box unchecked, the usual underestimation and skepticism:

Notably, the prior atomic tests in North Korea resulted in seismic activity of a similar force as Wednesday’s explosion, rather than a more powerful tremor that might be associated with a hydrogen payload. “I doubt the ability of North Korea to conduct a real hydrogen-bomb test,” says Cai Jian, of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. “In the past, they always exaggerated their power.

Yes, but eventually, they were able to back it up.  There's absolutely no reason to believe that won't be the case with North Korean thermonuclear weapons.  And once miniaturized and mounted on their submarine-launched ballistic missiles.....

So, here is the nightmare scenario. [When] at some point in the near future....North Korea has managed to develop enough nuclear weapons, miniaturized warheads, and SLBMs to satisfy American skeptics that the DPRK has a modest but effective arsenal of deliverable nuclear weapons, it would not take much effort to hold the United States hostage.

In the event of a new crisis in relations with North Korea – an outcome that occurs with metronomic regularity whenever the starving criminal state needs a fresh infusion of American capital – the DPRK might find that U.S. pockets will again loosen if it puts a gun to America’s head in the form of a nuclear-armed submarine somewhere off the West Coast. American officials would try to soothe the frayed nerves of frightened Pacific Coast residents, but it would be hollow rhetoric. There would be almost nothing Washington could do to prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear warhead at a major metropolitan area [or in an EMP attack] save for threatening a massive retaliatory response; a threat that is already explicit, as it serves as the foundational doctrine of American nuclear deterrence strategy. In this scenario, the U.S. could only react to and not prevent a North Korean nuclear attack.

Does it even matter if this test wasn't an H-bomb but "only" another, bigger, atomic fission warhead?  Given the terroristic purposes for which the NoKos will use it, isn't that sufficient to the task?

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