So North Korea tested another nuclear weapon the other day. Bad? Absolutely. An issue for U.S. national security? Sure. A homeland security problem? I’d argue yes…though I realize there will be disagreements.
It certainly isn’t the end of the world–or even something close to anything like an existential threat. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal (and ability to delivery it) is to Russia like Pee Wee football is to the NFL. Proliferation is bad. But it doesn’t signify the end of our FREEDOM!
Primarily because we maintain the most dangerous nuclear arsenal in the world. Pure numbers do not matter, though of course we rank right up there with Russia in a class of our own. But more importantly we can currently drop more mega-tonnage on ridiculously small “Circular Error Probable” (CEP) areas that it is almost incomprehensible the amount of civilization destroying damage we could inflict on any adversary.
So what is the issue with this latest North Korean test? The possibilities that things could very possibly get out of control. By that I mean, a regime with little to lose might try to make the ultimate sale. Here is Harvard’s Graham Allison recently in the New York Times:
The real significance is that this test was, in the estimation of American officials, most likely fueled by highly enriched uranium, not the plutonium that served as the core of North Korea’s earlier tests. Testing a uranium-based bomb would announce to the world — including potential buyers — that North Korea is now operating a new, undiscovered production line for weapons-usable material.
This is important, why?
Hence the grim conclusion that North Korea now has a new cash crop — one that is easier to market than plutonium. Highly enriched uranium is harder to detect and therefore easier to export — and it is also simpler to build a bomb from it. The model of uranium-fueled bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was so elementary, and its design so reliable, that the United States never bothered to test one before using it.
So what to do?
Mr. Obama should send Mr. Kim a direct, unambiguous message, with a carbon copy to the Chinese leadership in Beijing, warning that if a nuclear bomb of North Korean origin were to explode on American soil or that of an American ally, the United States would respond precisely as though North Korea itself had hit the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
The whole piece is worth your time: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/opinion/north-koreas-lesson-nukes-for-sale.html?_r=0