North Korea

Gabby O.

Staff Writer

North Korea has been all over the news and social media; it was the topic of conversations. With the rise of the fairly new Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, events have been heating up. Recently he stated how his small country is quite able to send nuclear missiles over our borders and into the United States. South Korea stepped up their game and has been keeping a close eye on their bitter neighbors. On the other hand, here in the U.S., this matter has been taken very lightly, for without a second’s hesitation, most people feel there is no way that North Korea is capable of doing anything close to this “threat.” It is important to first explore all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

U.N. (United Nations) sanctions were placed on North Korea after a prior atomic test. In turn, this led to the nuclear threats on the United States, South Korea, and Japan. U.S. officials had serious doubts on whether or not North Korea could actually launch a nuclear missile. However, possible radioactive traces have been detected 1000km from Japan from a nuclear test by North Korea that happened in February. Lower levels were also detected in Ussuriysk, Russia. It is believed that the test measured in at 10 kilotons. To bring it into prospective, that is 1,000 tons of TNT or half of the bomb that hit Hiroshima. This test was taken as a success, which means that North Korea is even closer to developing a nuclear arsenal.

This, of course, is not something we want to see happen. Recently in the news, North Korea wanted to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state. “North Korea’s demand to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state is neither realistic nor acceptable,” Thomas Countryman, U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, told Reuters in Geneva, South Korea, in response. Both South Korea and the United States will not sit down with North Korea until it has “denuclearized.” That includes dismantling any nuclear weapons and suspending any launches on North Korea’s side. “If the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] sits at a table with the U.S., it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons,” reported the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper in North Korea. Recently, North Korea gave both the United States and South Korea conditions so they could talk, one of which included the lifting of the U.N. sanctions. North Korea is renowned for making threats to both countries just to get concessions. However, both countries have also stated that this reoccurring problem needs to stop. Eventually a serious course of action will have to take place.

There are beliefs that serious action, however, will not be coming from North Korea. AP Human Geography teacher Mr. Daniel Page stated, “[Korea] will not be aggressive. China does not want them to ruin what good thing they got going on economically.” China is North Korea’s only ally and they do not want to get involved.  Siegfried Hecker, from Stanford University, is currently a visiting scientist at the Vienna Center for DiNorth Korea1 GOsarmament and Non-Proliferation. He assured, “All of these things that they have threatened to do, most of them they cannot do.” On April 2, North Korea stated how it would re-open Yongbyon, which was a main nuclear complex. According to Hecker, he believes they do not have enough plutonium to make a sufficient amount of nuclear weapons. It would take around three years until the old plant could produce plutonium. North Korea used this element on the first two tests it did; however, it is unclear if it was used in the third test, with uranium being another option. Hecker believed that Pyongyang’s (capital of North Korea) announcement was meaning to say that it would reconstruct the old nuclear complex into a uranium enrichment facility. With this being said, it is still believed that North Korea is nowhere near being capable of putting a nuclear warhead on a missile. Heckler also thinks that Pyongyang is at least five years away from having a missile that could possibly reach the United States.

There are reasons to believe that this small Asian country poses no threat to the United States. It does not have the resources or the current capabilities to do us much harm. However, just because they are not an immediate threat does not mean they will not be one in the future. With constant threats to attack and bomb the U.S. as well as South Korea, it is only a matter of time before they decide to prove themselves capable. It is evident throughout history that whenever a country puts enough emphasis in their military, war or intense battling soon follows. It will be very important that we keep a close eye on our foreign counterpart and not disparage them too quickly.

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