by Carolina de la Pedraja – Earlier this year, it was brought to the attention of the United Nations Security Council that North Korea clearly “violated (past) resolutions…and of the nonproliferation regime,” when it bragged about the “‘spectacular success’” of its first hydrogen bomb test.” At a meeting on January 6 of this year, the members of the Security Council wanted to create a resolution that acts on previous promises to hinder North Korea’s ability to further its nuclear weapons agenda. The United Nations Security Council consists of five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms. The Council was enacted in 1970 when the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (commonly known as NPT) was signed. Its purpose is to “prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
The tyrannous leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, read on state television that the test would “make the world…look up to our strong nuclear country.” However, the United States believes that the initial analysis is not definitive, and some experts are saying that it is possible that Pyongyang “detonated a different type of hydrogen bomb.” The Security Council has previously tried various measures to prevent the recluse state, North Korea, from continuing its nuclear program. These measures have ranged from a luxury goods embargo to a freeze on financial overseas assets and a travel ban, but none have worked. Norsar, a group in Norway that monitors nuclear tests, also found that the seismic readings were not consistent with other atomic bombs, like the ones used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The group also added later that because the test took place underground, it is harder to monitor the radiation and fully determine the type of weapon tested. The United States, Japan, China, and South Korea are all running tests to determine if there is airborne radiation in the region, but none have found evidence of such radiation.
On Saturday, February 13, 2016, United States Congress adopted harsher sanctions on North Korea, in response to the nuclear test coupled with the satellite-bearing rocket that Pyongyang launched this past Sunday. The West sees this rocket launch as “a cover for a ballistic missile test” which also violates the UN’s Security Council resolutions. The bipartisan measure includes imposing sanctions on “any person or entity importing goods or technology or training related to weapons of mass destruction into North Korea, or anyone who knowingly engaged in human rights abuses.” The legislation now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Even if the North Korean test was not on a full hydrogen bomb, with each passing test, the North Korean nuclear scientists collect more data and get that much closer to being able to miniaturize nuclear weapons, which would allow the erratic country “to deploy nuclear weapons on long-range missiles.” Regardless of whether or not it was a full H-bomb, the test itself is still troubling and it got the world’s attention. The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, stated, “any kind of nuclear test, like the one that North Korea conducted…is provocative and a flagrant violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution,” which is possibly exactly what Pyongyang wanted.
The recluse state of North Korea does not play by the traditional rules which makes it volatile and dangerous. If North Korea does in fact have nuclear weapons, even if not thermonuclear, the result will be catastrophic. Because of the secrecy surrounding North Korea, it is difficult to ever fully know where it stands with nuclear weapons, and despite the United Nations Security Council’s efforts to maintain international peace, the idea of not knowing is terrifying on its own.