The North Korean Standoff Has Taken on an Added Dimension
The North Korean Standoff Has Taken on an Added Dimension by Jim Rickards – Daily Reckoning
The North Koreans are determined to develop a nuclear-armed arsenal of ICBMs to ensure that the U.S. does not attack the Kim regime.
But North Korea has suffered an unusual and self-inflicted setback in its nuclear weapons development programs — “mountain fatigue.”
Several tunnels collapsed recently, killing as many as 200 North Korean workers. It was not the total collapse some feared, but it was an indication that the threat of total collapse is real.
North Korea uses underground facilities in Mount Mantap to test its nuclear detonations. The most recent test on Sept. 3 was of an H-bomb, North Korea’s most powerful yet, estimated to have produced a blast of up to 280 kilotons.
A hydrogen bomb is different from an atomic bomb, and far more destructive.
The atomic bomb works by fission, literally “splitting” an atom, so that a neutron is emitted, collides with other atoms and causes a chain reaction with an enormous release of energy.
The hydrogen bomb works by fusion. Atomic particles are “fused,” or pushed together, in a way that destabilizes the atom and also releases a neutron.
Both methods start a chain reaction. But the fusion method in a hydrogen bomb is orders of magnitude more powerful. The destructive force can be 100 or even 1,000 times greater than that of an atomic bomb.
The combined effect of this latest blast and prior tests has hollowed out and weakened the structure of the mountain itself. Based on seismic readings from the area, including a series of earthquakes, Japanese and Chinese scientists had warned North Korea that the mountain was in danger of collapse.
Then on Oct. 30, the warnings proved correct.
A more dramatic collapse could have serious environmental consequences, in addition to the geopolitical consequences.