February 24, 2024

North Korea’s nuclear weapons not its worst threat

Recent fourth nuclear device not the only WMD threat facing South Korea and its allies

The early January detonation of its fourth nuclear device by North Korea has stirred an already simmering pot. To continue the metaphor, when one adds in the apparently successful missile test (placing an object in earth orbit) and the reactive sanctions by the UN as well as the unilateral sanctions of some member states, the pot is now at a full boil. Now we learn that some Western analysts are admitting that Pyongyang may indeed have miniaturized its nuclear devices enough to fit atop its missiles of varying ranges.

Nations are worried – and rightfully so, for this adds yet another dimension to the arsenal of weapons at Kim Jong Un’s disposal. The conventional wisdom is that Kim would not dare to employ his nukes for fear of retaliation that would surely spell the end of his regime. It is a valid – though not 100 percent guaranteed – argument if one considers only larger, strategic weapons. Tactical nukes present another problem. Used properly, they can be localized such that collateral damage can be restricted to a much smaller area.