• Considered opinionThe Madman Theory of North Korea

    By Steven Coll

    By the fall of 1969, President Richard Nixon had become increasingly frustrated with the refusal of North Vietnam to engage in meaningful negotiations with the United States. He believed that the Soviet Union was the only country able to persuade the North Vietnamese leadership to be forthcoming – but how do you get the Kremlin to apply pressure on North Vietnam? Nixon’s idea: To convince Leonid Brezhnev that Nixon was a madman, capable of irrational action. Has President Donald Trump revived the Madman Theory in order to deal with North Korea’s nukes?

  • Nuclear war & public healthWorld unprepared to deal with the effects of a thermonuclear attack

    The world is not prepared to deal with the devastating effects of a thermonuclear attack, says an University of Georgia’s Cham Dallas. He said that the development of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea is a transformative event, especially from the point of view of the medical and public health response to a thermonuclear detonation.

  • North Korea: EMP threatNorth Korea threatens EMP attack on U.S.

    North Korea’s relentless march toward acquiring the capability to place a hydrogen bomb on top of an ICBM will soon pose a threat to all major U.S. cities. There is another threat that marrying of a hydrogen bomb to a powerful rocket poses: An EMP threat. The North Koreans could launch a missile into the upper atmosphere, then detonate a high-yield hydrogen bomb in space in order to generate an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which would shut down the U.S. power grid and damage electrical devices. Experts testifying before the Congressional EMP Commission said that in the event of a massive EMP attack on the United States using multiple high-yield warheads, around 90 percent of the American population would be dead after eighteen months due to famine, disease, and societal breakdown.

  • North Korea: SanctionsWhy didn’t sanctions stop North Korea’s missile program?

    By Daniel Salisbury

    North Korea’s long-range missile program has made significant technological advances in the past few months. For most of the past twenty years, the international community has struggled to stop this kind of progress by imposing a series of severe sanctions on the country. Have sanctions failed? This question is complicated, but what is undeniable is that sanctions have had unforeseen consequences by making North Korea’s procurement efforts more sophisticated as Chinese middlemen monetize the risk. Americans tend to view North Korea as an inward-looking, economically isolated state cut off from the international community. However, the country’s illicit networks – including those supplying its missile program – are global and responsive. Ultimately, they will be difficult to counter.

  • North KoreaCan the U.S. defend itself against North Korean missiles?

    Regardless of the specifics of the Sunday test, one thing is clear: North Korea will achieve — within months, not years, and if it has not achieved this already – the capability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the continental United States and detonate it over a major American city. Does the United States have the means to protect itself against a North Korean nuclear attack?

  • North KoreaTrump can’t win: The North Korea crisis is a lose-lose proposition for the United States

    By Benjamin Habib

    There seems to be no outcome from this crisis in which U.S. power is enhanced. There are no avenues for the Trump administration to demonstrate strength and resolve that do not ultimately expose the limitations of that strength. Could current events on the Korean Peninsula represent America’s “Suez Crisis” moment? In 1956, Britain over-reached in its attempt to maintain a post-war imperial toehold in Egypt, exposing the chasm between its imperial pretensions of a bygone era and its actual power in the aftermath of the second world war. The North Korea crisis is the most obvious face of hegemonic transition. Trump’s United States is facing a set of outcomes to the current crisis that are lose-lose. They are exposing the reality of U.S. decline and the growing limitations of its ability to shape the strategic environment in northeast Asia.

  • Nuclear risksDetecting carriers of dirty bombs

    The threat of terrorism in Europe has been on the rise in recent years, with experts and politicians particularly worried that terrorists might make use of dirty bombs. Researchers have developed a new system that will be able to detect possible carriers of radioactive substances, even in large crowds of people. This solution is one of the defensive measures being developed as part of the REHSTRAIN project, which is focused on security for TGV and ICE high-speed trains in France and Germany.

  • Nuclear risksWhy we should start worrying about nuclear fallout

    Since North Korea’s recent missile tests, and Sunday’s underground nuclear test, the possibility of nuclear warfare looms larger than it has in more than five decades. Nearly thirty years after the cold war ended, are we prepared to face such a challenge? How would large-scale nuclear attacks affect the world today? “During the cold war, the United States, the Soviet Union, and several European countries built networks of fallout shelters — but even at their peak, these would not have effectively protected the majority of citizens,” says one expert. Nor is radioactive fallout the only problem, because “the damage from mass fires triggered by nuclear bombs has been radically and persistently underestimated.”

  • IranWeapons experts: IAEA needs full access to Parchin to understand Iran’s nuclear program

    In order to understand Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs full access to Iran’s Parchin military installation, two experts on nuclear weapons wrote in a report published Monday. The report’s authors wrote that the IAEA has inadequate means to investigate possible Iranian violations of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • NK nukesNK has 13-30 nuclear weapons, and will have up to 60 nukes by 2020

    North Korea is estimated to have 33 kilograms of separated plutonium, and between 175 and 645 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium. If NK used 70 percent of the available estimated stocks of plutonium and weapon-grade uranium to make nuclear bombs, then, depending on the yield of each bomb, its nuclear arsenal would now consist of between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons. Based on a cumulative estimate, North Korea is currently expanding its nuclear weapons at a rate of about 3-5 weapons per year. Through 2020, North Korea is projected to have 25-50 nuclear weapons. Depending on the operation of the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) at Yongbyon, NK could have up to 60 nuclear weapons by the end of 2020.

  • Nuclear detectionExperimental box to track nuclear activity by rogue nations

    Researchers are carrying out a research project at Dominion Power’s North Anna Nuclear Generating Station in Virginia that could lead to a new turning point in how the United Nations tracks rogue nations that seek nuclear power. The years-long project centers on a high-tech box full of luminescent plastic cubes stacked atop one another that can be placed just outside a nuclear reactor operated by, say, Iran. The box would detect subatomic particles known as neutrinos produced by the reactor, which can be used to track the amount of plutonium produced in the reactor core.

  • North KoreaNorth Korean missiles can reach major U.S. cities beyond West Coast

    Based on current information, the recent missile test by North Korea could easily reach the U.S. West Coast and a number of major U.S. cities beyond the West Coast. News reports say that North Korea again launched its missile on a very highly lofted trajectory, which allowed the missile to fall in the Sea of Japan rather than overflying Japan. The reports also say the maximum altitude of the launch was 3,700 km (2,300 miles) with a flight time of about 47 minutes. If those numbers are correct, the missile flown on a standard trajectory would have a range 10,400 km (6,500 miles), not taking into account the Earth’s rotation.

  • Nuclear risksCompact, precise photons beam to aid in nuclear security

    A new, compact technique for producing beams of high-energy photons (particles of light) with precisely controlled energy and direction could “see” through thick steel and concrete to more easily detect and identify concealed or smuggled nuclear materials. These photons are similar to X-rays but have even higher photon energy than conventional X-rays, which lets them penetrate thick materials.

  • Nuclear attackHawaii launches a campaign to prepare islanders for North Korean nuclear attack

    Officials in Hawaii are preparing for a North Korean nuclear attack. State officials said they would not want to create a panic among the islanders, but that the right thing to do under the circumstances was to have the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency unveil a public education and information campaign aiming to inform people what to do in the event Pyongyang launched a nuclear-tipped missile targeting Hawaii.

  • ApocalypseA single nuke's impact should be measured by more than megatons

    As the notion of nuclear hostilities leaps from its old, Cold War perch into modern debate, new calculations by researchers show that even a limited nuclear strike could have disastrous global consequences. The researchers have determined that a single nuclear warhead could cause devastating climate change resulting in widespread drought and famine that could cost a billion lives.