North Korea Making Speedy Advancements In Nuclear Capabilities

Under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea is in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the end of the Cold War, former leader Kim Jong-Il, who ruled the nation between 1994 and 2011 had restrained the program due to Chinese pressure.

Jong-Un, however, is full steam ahead and has ordered 49 missile tests in the past five years since taking over. This includes 21 this year alone. The ruler has also overseen three nuclear tests, with two of those falling within 2016.

In the 18 years his father ruled, Jong Il only conducted 26 missile tests and two nuclear tests, a stark contrast to his son’s ambitions.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and international Security, spoke on the matter.

“With the ballistic missile tests one after the other, they seem to be under tremendous pressure to advance their program.”

He also noted how “troubling” it is that scientists of North Korea did not even seem to be taking time to drill back into the nuclear test site for the purpose of analyzing the September 9 explosion, which is a step that is standard and allows scientists a good deal of information about the testing.

The speed at which Jong-Un is conducting the testing is shocking, but analysts are apparently more worried that the nation is learning much from the tests and making technical advances at a rapid pace.

When North Korea had claimed to have launched ballistic missiles in May from a submarine, there had been disputes over the issue because it appeared that photographs had been altered. Yet in August, North Korea carried out successful tests from a submarine and those tests were fact.

Vipin Narang, a political scientist and expert on nuclear proliferation at MIT, stated what he believes the North Koreans’ ambitions are.

“It seems like North Korea is trying to build a wide array of delivery platforms so that they’re able to hit Japan, South Korea, American assets in Asia, and eventually, the homeland.”

The international community is still trying to decide on a response tactic to North Korea’s nuclear test conducted last month. The test, which occurred in September, was North Korea’s largest to date. The explosion carried a yield of about 10 kilotons of TNT as the Washington Post relays. Albright shares that he expects the country will now attempt to discover ways to boost the bomb’s yield up to 20 or 25 kilotons. What must be kept in mind is that the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of only 15 kilotons.

These recent developments are certainly alarming to policymakers in countries that neighbor North Korea and also in the United States. It’s leading to more talks of strikes to preempt the possible actions of North Korea. During the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday, Democratic candidate Tim Kaine announced he would support striking North Korea to stop any nuclear attack on the United States.

Additionally, Mike Pence, Kaine’s Republican rival, stated that Trump would not allow the nation to “flout American power.” The South Korean Defense Ministry also shared that it would consult with the U.S. “over a possible preemptive strike against North Korea. . . in case of an imminent nuclear attack by the North.”

The publication relays reasons why U.S. leaders have long been against taking military action against Pyongyang.

“U.S. leaders have long ruled out taking military action against Pyongyang. This is partly because there is no appetite in the United States for another war, and partly because preemptive action would almost certainly lead to the devastation of Seoul, a city of 20 million that is within range of North Korea’s conventional artillery.”

The advancements in North Korean nuclear capabilities is, however, changing the conversation about the manner such threats should be handled.

[Featured Image by Woohae Cho/Getty Images]