Around the World

Nuclear Threats: North Korea and Beyond

With the increasingly bellicose rhetoric from North Korea, the world is waiting to see whether what has so far been a war of words will turn to one of force. But North Korea is only one of several nuclear hotspots around the world that bear watching.

In the latest salvo, the North Korean army issued a statement that its “cutting-edge” nuclear weapons would be part of “merciless” military strikes on the United States.

This comes a day after news that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had authorized restarting the Yongbyon Nuclear Facility as a source of plutonium to beef up the country’s nuclear arsenal.

North Korea’s increasingly sharp threats to attack South Korea and specific targets in the United States are not being taken lightly. The U.S. sent B-2 bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets for military drills in South Korea; the U.S. Navy is positioning missile destroyers off the Korean Peninsula; and, within a few weeks, the Pentagon will deploy an advanced missile defense system to Guam – two years ahead of schedule.

“I think the chance of nuclear war, or really any kind of war, is quite low,” said Paul Bracken, a professor at the Yale School of Management and author of the book, “The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger and the New Power Politics.”

But North Korea’s capability to inflict damage should not be minimized. If the country were to strike, Bracken said, it could do a lot of damage to Japan and to South Korea, but not the United States.

“They could fire chemical rockets which could kill several hundred thousand people in Seoul, and Tokyo and Osaka in Japan,” he said.

A nuclear strike directed at one of those densely populated cities could kill perhaps 3 million people, according to Bracken.

The North Korean crisis is “the start of a long cycle of nuclear provocations,” he said.

But East Asia is not the only concern. Another potential crisis lies in the Middle East. Iran has no nuclear weapons, but many countries fear it is trying to develop its own arsenal. And both North Korea and Iran have extensive cooperation on missile testing and scientific research. This week, the United States is part of a group of six world powers negotiating with Iran to place limits on its nuclear program.

However, Bracken said the world should be paying closer attention not to Iran, but to another country.

“Pakistan is the fastest-growing nuclear weapons state in the world,” he said. “South Asia is developing into a thicket of nuclear weapons.”

With the combination of North Korea, Pakistan and the possibility of Iran, “all three regions -- South Asia, the Middle East and Northeast Asia -- have had crises for a long time. But now these are occurring in a nuclear context, and that’s a big difference.

“I think it’s basically impossible to stop these countries if they decide they want the bomb,” said Bracken. “We have to learn to manage to live in a world with nine or 10 nuclear powers just as we learned to live in a world with two nuclear weapon states back in the Cold War.”

Loading...
  • Boeing says completed key design review for space taxi

    By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co has completed a key review of its design for a new commercial venture to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, making it the only one of four rival bidders to finish the NASA work on time, company officials said on Thursday. Boeing is competing with Space Exploration Technologies Corp, or SpaceX, and privately held Sierra Nevada Corp, to develop and build U.S. The multibillion-dollar program has taken on new urgency in recent months, given escalating tensions with Russia over its annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Martin said the U.S.

  • Despite Apple’s efforts, the iPhone 6 won’t be Samsung-free
    Despite Apple’s efforts, the iPhone 6 won’t be Samsung-free

    Apple may be desperately trying to reduce its reliance on Samsung-made components for its devices, but that’s not an easy process, and its largest supplier/rival will have a presence in the iPhone 6, Digitimes reports. FROM EARLIER: Huge leak shows the 5.5-inch iPhone’s rear shell side-by-side with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 Apparently, Samsung is selling Apple RAM memory for the new iPhone, alongside other suppliers including SK Hynix and Elpida Memory. Apple removed Samsung from the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c supply line last year when it came to RAM and relied solely on components from the other two firms. However, it looks like SK Hynix and Elpida have both been “reluctant” to increase chip production at the request of Apple this

  • Hamas leader: Don't compare us to ISIL
    Hamas leader: Don't compare us to ISIL

    As much of the world expressed revulsion over the beheading of American journalist James Foley by an ISIL executioner, Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal took pains to disassociate his organization from the Islamist militant group that has conducted a murderous rampage across a large swath of Syria and Iraq.

  • Work at these 10 companies if you want to be happy
    Work at these 10 companies if you want to be happy

    Employees at companies with self-proclaimed great cultures get a lot of perks, but do these things make them happier workers?

  • Russian aid trucks leave; Merkel seeks cease-fire
    Russian aid trucks leave; Merkel seeks cease-fire

    DONETSK, Russia (AP) — Hundreds of trucks from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to rebel-held eastern Ukraine rolled back across the border Saturday into Russia but questions about alleged Russian artillery in Ukraine still remained.

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledge $1 Million to DonorsChoose
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledge $1 Million to DonorsChoose

    She's a philanthropist, mother and half of the world's most generous couple. Melinda Gates and her husband, Bill, have tackled numerous global issues through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the foundation's inception in 2000, they have given over $30 billion dollars to fight disease, prevent the spread of HIV and foster agricultural development.

  • U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

    By Steve Holland EDGARTOWN Mass. (Reuters) - The United States is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into Syria after days of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist, the White House signaled on Friday. President Barack Obama, soon to end a two-week working vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, has not yet been presented with military options for attacking Islamic State targets beyond two important areas in Iraq, said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

  • Fleeing Iraqi Christians reveal horror of Islamic State
    Fleeing Iraqi Christians reveal horror of Islamic State

    From the rescue plane which took them on a one-way journey to France, two Iraqi refugees revealed tales of rape and fear at the hands of Islamic State that forced them to flee their homeland with nothing. Rene, who did not want to give his last name, said the Islamic extremists currently rampaging through Syria and Iraq were as terrifying as they were sophisticated in their communication methods. He was one of 40 refugees who landed Thursday in Paris after being flown out of Arbil along with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who indicated that France was prepared to take in more people in "extreme cases."

Inside North Korea

Loading...