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N’Korea’s H-bomb Test: Threat To Global Peace

LAST week’s claims of a successful testing of the hydrogen bomb by the North Korean authorities have further underscored the risk posed by the reclusive regime to regional and global peace and security. While the claims are still being subjected to independent verification, the announcement has understandably triggered global tensions, amidst the unprecedented high levels of insecurity already being witnessed as a result of the terror war in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

Global concerns have been heightened mainly because of the erratic disposition of the authorities in the highly impoverished hermit country that has elevated the arms race to the level of an obsession. The world is rightly alarmed that the hydrogen bomb in the hands of North Korea could find its way to other rogue nations and non-state actors, who may not hesitate to put it to use.

In a world still reeling from the unprecedented devastation caused by the atomic bomb when it was dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than 70 years ago, it is doubtful if anybody will be willing to welcome another nuclear war, this time spearheaded by the hydrogen bomb. As destructive as the atomic bomb is known to be, the hydrogen bomb, also known as the thermonuclear bomb, is hundreds of times more devastating. It is energised by nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, unlike the atomic bomb which derives its energy from fission.

It is being speculated that North Korea, which has defied the rest of the world by previously carrying out three nuclear tests, could have tested an enhanced or boosted nuclear weapon, instead of a hydrogen bomb. Although it was reported that a 5.1 magnitude tremor was recorded by the United States Geological Survey, North Korea’s neighbours and chief supporter, China, and the other half of the Korean Peninsula have yet to report an unusual rise in radiation levels to confirm the veracity of Pyongyang’s claims.

The United Nations Security Council is right to declare the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un’s action, a “clear threat to international peace” and “profoundly destabilising for regional security.” The obvious consensus is that this madness by one of the most closed societies in the world has to stop, but no one seems to know how to go about it. That the test was carried out without the prior knowledge of China shows the single-mindedness of the regime and how difficult it could be for even China, its sole ally, to persuade North Korea to check its pursuit of nuclear armaments.

Nevertheless, it is believed that China still holds the key to caging Kim’s ambitions. What this calls for is a strict enforcement of existing sanctions and a united response against a very belligerent country, including exploring the possibility of getting China to stop doing business with the country. Efforts should also be intensified in reviving the six-party talks launched in 2003 to persuade North Korea to suspend its nuclear programme in exchange for food aid and relaxation of economic sanctions. All hands have to be on deck to make the world safer and avoid a possible deployment of hydrogen bomb in warfare for the first time.




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