GlobalSmackDown: North Korean Nuclear Test



Eric Bellomo

On Sept. 8 North Korea conducted a nuclear test at a power rating of 10 kilotons, approximately half of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, resulting in a 5.3 magnitude earthquake and the usual condemnation from the international community. North Korea has conducted nuclear tests in the past, the only nation this century to do so, at a rate of one every three years. However, this most recent test is the second such exhibition this year – the first of which took place in January. These events typically follow a familiar series of events: a test is conducted, the international community voices its discontent, sanctions are handed down and tempers subside. The passage of Resolution 2270, which was signed by China, North Korea’s one true ally, represent the heaviest sanctions in twenty years but Pyongyang has largely survived because of their trade relationship with China. The aspiration of becoming a nuclear power is deeply engrained into the culture of North Korea. Some observers believe that the risk taking nature of Kim Jong Un is replacing the relatively logical approach of his predecessor, Kim Jong-il. Nevertheless, there is global speculation and uncertainty regarding whether or not North Korea has actually reached the point where they reduce the size of a nuclear bomb to point it could fit on a long-range ballistic missile. The outcome of the most recent test is a deviation from the standard protocol following a nuclear test. China typically voices opposition but loosely enforces their words. However, China appears to have taken tangible steps to mollify the aggression of their neighbor, as evidenced by their recent indictment of Ma Xiaohong who has been arrested for facilitating the delivery of nuclear materials to North Korea. How Pyongyang will proceed with its testing and whether Beijing’s recent actions actually reflect a shift in policy remains to be seen. 




*Global Smackdown is a 23-minute multimedia forum facilitated by Dr. Tim Horner every Thursday at 2 p.m. in Corr 103.