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North Korea: nuclear nation

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Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 1:50 pm

During the presidential debates last year, Mitt Romney repeatedly argued that we had to keep closer tabs on Iran and its nuclear program.

Yet, it is not Iran we need to be as worried about. On Feb. 12., North Korea conducted its third test of a nuclear weapon. Last month, the country warned of such a test to be conducted.

Following the test explosion, multiple nations reported unusual seismic activity near North Korea at a depth of about one kilometer, meaning it was an underground test. It is estimated to have held the power of several kilotons of TNT. 

This is still a far cry from the 15-kiloton bombs used by the United States in World War II. North Korea’s previous tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009, both of smaller calibers. 

This third test was the first conducted under the reign of Kim Jon Un who came to power in 2011. Tuesday’s nuclear bomb test follows closely to North Korea’s launch of a satellite into space last December. 

All of North Korea’s military actions have been at the disapproval of the United States and the international community. 

Some now wonder if the U.S. could potentially become a target following the success of this third test.

North Korea’s dislike for the United States dates back to the Korean War, when the U.S. supported South Korean forces and Russia was allies with

North Korea. 

At one point during the war, the U.S. considered resorting to use of nuclear devices if North Korea crossed into South Korea. Since the war, North Korea has foregone economic growth in favor of advancing its military power. Today, North Korea maintains the fourth largest military in the world. 

During Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, President Obama briefly touched on the issue of North Korea’s actions and assured the American people “firm action in response to these threats.” 

I have no doubt that our government will be keeping a closer eye on North Korea. Yet, I’m still uneasy about the potential disaster. Looking back on the history of nuclear standoffs, one can’t help but wonder why there is not greater concern about this. 

The ‘50s was a time of public school drills and air raid tests. People even built bomb shelters in their backyards. Where is all that today? 

Now, people just assume that such an event can never occur — that there is no threat. In reality, the potential outcome of an attack by North Korea runs deeper than the flattening of a major city.

 A more likely scenario could be an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack in which a nuclear weapon is detonated a mile or so above the U.S. causing long-term damage to its power grid system. 

A similar scenario is explored in author William R. Forstchen's novel “One Second After,” which follows the aftermath of an EMP attack in a small southern college town. 

For years, politicians have stressed the importance of hardening our power grid system for such an event. It may be our country’s Achilles’ heel. Without electricity, our society would crumble. 

Now is the time to act to prevent potential disaster. 

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