North Korea claims to have working nuclear missiles


MCT Photo

The South Korean Foreign Minister and US Ambassador discuss plans to respond to North Korea’s Jan. 6, 2016 test. South Korea and the United States have also been strong allies since the Korean War, and both are enemies of North Korea. South Korea is the closest nation to North Korea, and with high tensions between the two nations, South Korea is a primary target for nuclear attacks. Photo courtesy of MCT.

Jason Merkel, Staff Writer

Over the past decade, North Korea has claimed to have working ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles. While detonations have been recorded at testing sites by other countries, the recorded strength does not match North Korea’s claims.

“I’m not extremely worried about their [North Korea’s] missile capabilities, and I think they would be shot down before reaching the United States,” said Luke Tenbarge, 11.

North Korea’s first successful nuclear test was on Oct. 9, 2006, but the estimated strength was only about one kiloton.

A second nuclear detonation was recorded on May 25, 2009 and had an estimate between two and seven kilotons, which was significantly stronger than the previous detonation, but still less than 2 percent of what a modern missile can deliver.

North Korea’s third test on Feb. 11, 2013 was much stronger, with varied estimates between 6 and 40 kilotons.

In 2016, two official tests were reported successful. On Jan. 6, a hydrogen bomb was supposedly tested, however many experts have stated that the recorded outputs did not match up with what is to be expected from a hydrogen bomb.

One month after this test, North Korean officials announced they had put a “peaceful satellite” into space, but many believed that it would be another test. No test from the satellite has been recorded.

A second test in 2016 occurred on Sept. 9 and was far stronger than the other tests, giving off roughly a 25 kiloton blast.

Even if these reports are true, Korea’s arsenal is not very strong. Current US military missiles have blasts of 50 kilotons to 1.2 megatons (1,200 kilotons), which places the United States’ military capabilities much higher than North Korea’s.

North Korea also faces the problem of reaching the United States, or many other oversea targets. While the US and other allies control nuclear submarines, Korea does not have accurate land-based missiles.

“Other countries controlling nuclear arsenals is a scary thought, but I don’t feel like we live in a target area, so we would be pretty safe if North Korea decides to launch their missiles,” said Eddie Son, 10.

The government has claimed multiple times to have ICBM’s, but no other party has confirmed it, and no tests have been recorded. Combining that with their small blast output, and that significantly reduces their danger.

“I know that North Korea has been punished for researching nuclear weapons, and they have bigger issues to worry about, so, they are truly only harming themselves by spending so much on researching nuclear missiles,” said Andy Han, 10.