It’s pretty bad. Worse than most thought.
It has been confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey that North Korea (“NOKO”) did indeed detonate a hydrogen bomb just after midnight local time Saturday. There have been 5 previous nuclear bomb tests by North Korea, but as far as is verified this was the first hydrogen bomb test. Previous tests were using atomic bombs. Hydrogen bombs are much more dangerous. How so?
Here’s the difference: an atomic bomb uses the nuclear process called “fission,” — a process of splitting an atom that causes atomic particles from the split atom to hit and split other atoms. This “daisy-chain” splitting is called fission and it creates the bombs power. Fusion happens when two lighter elements are forced together by enormous energy (pressure and heat) until they fuse into another isotope and release energy. The energy needed to start a fusion reaction is so large that it takes an atomic explosion to produce this reaction. Still, once fusion begins, it can theoretically continue to produce energy as long as it is controlled and the basic fusing isotopes are supplied.
Let’s define “isotope:” each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties; in particular, a radioactive form of an element.
I’m going to get somewhat technical in the next few sentences, but it is critical to understand the magnitude of what North Korea with a hydrogen bomb means.
Fission and fusion nuclear reactions are chain reactions, meaning that one nuclear event causes at least one other nuclear reaction, and typically more. The result is an increasing cycle of reactions that can quickly become uncontrolled. This type of nuclear reaction can be multiple splits of heavy isotopes or the merging of light isotopes. Fission chain reactions happen when neutrons bombard unstable isotopes. This type of “impact and scatter” process is difficult to control, but the initial conditions are relatively simple to achieve. A fusion chain reaction develops only under extreme pressure and temperature conditions that remain stable by the energy released in the fusion process. Both the initial conditions and stabilizing fields are very difficult to carry out with current technology. Fusion in a hydrogen bomb is not initiated until there is an actual atomic bomb explosion that creates the energy necessary to generate fusion. All of that created energy from not one but two nuclear explosions creates the tremendous devastating power in a hydrogen bomb. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were victims of two atoms bombs to end Word War II. Hydrogen bombs can be as much as 100 times more devastating. Now you understand why North Korea having hydrogen bomb capability has so many past just worried and close to fear and desperation.
Watch this video of the largest thermonuclear bomb blast ever — a “hydrogen” bomb:
That is a little scary! Especially when you realize that was from 1961! The Russians exploded that hydrogen bomb. It was so devastating that no one has used a bomb with that magnitude in a test since.
What do we Do?
There is no doubt that Kim Jung Un is dangerous, unhinged, unreasonable, and hellbent on fulfilling his personal vendetta against the United States. Although in previous posts I shared the specifics that Presidents Clinton, both Bushes, and President Obama hoped to achieve in their diplomatic pursuits of peace with North Korea. All were tied to there being no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. There was agreement between North Korea and the rest of World for that. We “thought” nuclear proliferation there had stopped. Not so. And it is escalating. It is obvious the NOKO ICBM missiles can reach the continental U.S. And it seems they now have the ability to not only create a hydrogen bomb, but to use the “miniaturization” expertise to make that warhead small enough to send our way.
There are still those crying for diplomacy to continue. Diplomacy has never stopped. But heretofore it has failed. Economic sanctions will now probably be ramped up further, but it is doubtful their results will be nuclear disarmament. President Trump and his Secretary of Defense have made it clear that all options are on the table for the U.S. in stopping a North Korea nuclear holocaust unleashed on the World. But what can be done to stop them?
It seems certain that any military action on the Korean Peninsula will unleash amazing fury from the North. They have non-nuclear capability that alone through conventional military long-range artillery attacks could kill 15 million South Koreans in Seoul in minutes. Japan and Guam would probably be next. Of course lobbing a few nukes at Mainland United States would make Jung’s day.
I’ve heard it suggested continuously that the CIA or some other covert intelligence entity from the West assassinate Kim Jung Un. Even if successful, his replacement would only pick up the nuclear mantle and push forward. The Free World is at a standstill in determining what course of action might work.
Here’s a thought from the limited knowledge about options I have. Nations of the World must immediately totally isolate North Korea in every way: economically, militarily, socially, and take away every ability of the dictator to continue his personal and government lifestyle. Oh, we hear about previous really tough sanctions on NOKO. But they still are selling the limited exports they have always sold, conducting financial transactions with other countries or they would be far worse off fiscally than they are. Those must be stopped immediately. But even with all of that, I cannot see the despot ever voluntarily giving up his quest to destroy the West through North Korean nuclear power.
Is War with NOKO an Option?
Yes it is — but not a good one. Let’s hope it’s not the ONLY one. The cost of Asian lives would be catastrophic. Besides those in Seoul, Japan and other southeast Asian countries would be immediate targets for Jung. Who knows what he might do against China as crazy as that seems to consider. One thing is certain: if North Korea starts firing nuclear missiles, the results will annihilate an unspeakable number of humans in Asia and elsewhere and potentially could end life as we know it.
Personally I shudder at the thought of any action any country initiated against North Korea would kill so many innocents there in a matter of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Jung knows that and having the capability to wipe Seoul away has given him a decided edge. No country wants to be responsible for the deaths of those Koreans — especially the U.S.
But our options are becoming fewer and fewer. And it appears time is our enemy. I have no idea what the military options and their possible results may bring. And certainly we don’t want to see South Koreans die. But it may come down to this: 3 40-megaton hydrogen bombs delivered to 3 U.S. cities — New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles — could kill 50 million Americans almost immediately with another 75 – 100 million from nuclear poisoning and after effects. What after effects? Think of what would happen to U.S. agriculture, our eco system, and especially water. It would take decades for recovery of those systems if ever. And it appears NOKO is not long from having that capability.
We don’t want to initiate any unilateral action against North Korea…period. But if we take that totally off the table we must have a good answer for this question: How with our inaction do we feel about allowing the loss of 100 million American lives?