Defense Secretary Mattis issued a stern warning regarding North Korea earlier today. This, after North Korea announced on Sunday afternoon via its state-run television that it had “tested a thermonuclear weapon,” as reported by CBS News.
Secretary Mattis, from the West Wing of the White House on Sunday, told of a “massive military response,” including potentially “total annihilation” of North Korea should it attack the U.S. or its allies, according to Politico. “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response—a response both effective and overwhelming,” according to Mattis.
North Korea has conducted a number of missile tests over the last few months. But, this one was reportedly the largest and most powerful and came just hours after the North Korean government issued a video of Leader Un inspecting what was reported to be a hydrogen bomb. Once launched, the earthquake produced by the test was nearly 10 times more powerful than the one created during the last nuclear test by North Korea, as reported by Reuters. That test was about a year ago. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey and was near a site well-known for previous tests reports Military.com. The epicenter of the quake was estimated to be several miles underground, consistent with a nuclear test. The U.S. military will now take air samples in the area of the Korean peninsula to confirm that there was, in fact, a nuclear test.
According to Pyongyang, this type of bomb is now ready to be loaded onto a long-range missile capable of hitting the U.S. If that is true, North Korea has hit another important milestone in its quest for nuclear capability. And, contrary to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent comments regarding North Korea showing “restraint,” these actions seem to indicate heightened provocation.
While the North Koreans may be trying to send a message to the world, “they’re trying to learn something new,” according to North Korean expert Joel Wit, as reported by The Atlantic. In fact, they “may be experimenting with how to increase ‘yields,’ or the amount of energy released when a nuclear weapon is detonated.” This would lessen the need for accuracy on hitting the missile’s target.
Leader Un is believed to want the nuclear weapons to keep the U.S. and its allies from attacking North Korea or attempting some sort of coup to impose a regime change. And, he has spent a lot of money on the project. According to a recent article from Popular Mechanics, the North Korean government has “devoted about 25 percent of their entire gross domestic product to defense, and much of that to missiles.”
Even though North Korea is now making claims of being able to load a nuclear weapon onto a medium-to-long-range missile, that does not necessarily make the claim true. But, with each test, progress is made. And with each bit of progress, the options to the U.S. may get a bit more limited.
[Featured Image by KRT via AP Video/AP Images]