Oct 10, 2006

[North Korea] Nuclear Winter

If you try a Google News search for [North Korea] right now, you're going to see a lot of buzz for the somewhat rogue state. In case you've been living under a rock for a least the past week or so, then you might not have heard that the small nation made good it's threat to push through with their nuclear testing despite strong objections from the rest of the international community.

Given the volume or articles being posted real-time across the web, it might take you some time to deterine which topics you might want to check. In terms of the actual test, you can check out this set of articles also through Google news. The test took place at about 10:30 Pyongyang local time, an event which CNet News reports was actually recorded as a 4.2-magnitude event, which is pretty keen. One man's earthquake is another man's nuclear test, perhaps?

The question now is how the international community is going to respond to this. It is definitely a bold move on North Korea's part, something that is sending very strong ripples throughout the region and the world. As much as everyone has kept all eyes on this country and put in different measures to attempt to dissuade them from advancing their tests, clearly North Korea has ignored all penalties thus far.

Does this automatically mean North Korea is a nuclear power? Not exactly. There are a number of things involved in this sort of thing. What we do know is that this proves they are capable of putting a nuclear device together. The next question is if they have the ability to mount such a warhead on a guided missile or a similar payload delivery device. They previously tested their intercontinental ballistics missile (ICBM) capability with a device that could theoretically reach Alaska or Hawaii to no avail. They also tested shorter ranged missiles that could reach as far as neighboring Japan, but this time the test proved successful.

What this leads up to is that if North Korea could theoretically weaponize their nuclear devices, then only the immediate neighbors in the region would be threatened. If you want to know more about Pyongyang's nuclear development, the New York Times has put together a timeline of North Korea's development of their nuclear program over the years which is pretty informative.

So what now? It's hard to say, really. It'll take the international community a bit longer before a formal response to all this can be released in terms actual policy statements, pronouncements and formal resolutions. It's certainly going to be a tense time for everyone. While most of the US's attention has been directed at worrying about Iran, here comes North Korea taking a very big leap by pursuing an actual nuclear test.

There goes the neighborhood.

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