North Korea tests nuclear weapon, tensions running high

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North Korea tests nuclear weapon, tensions running high

Well, looks like North Korea is back to being the most important thing for the media after a couple of weeks hiatus where they went off on the Confederate Monuments controversy.   You’ve probably seen the news already, but CNN has a pretty decent bullet point of what’s going on:

What happened:

-- North Korea said it successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb Sunday -- the country's sixth nuclear test.

-- The explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.

-- Hours before the test, North Korean state media released pictures of the country's leader, Kim Jong Un inspecting what it claimed was a nuclear warhead being placed inside a missile

With that as the context, here’s CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett on CBSN discussing the latest:

In turn, the NYT reports that the specific sanctions appears to be in oil:

The Trump Administration, warning that North Korea is “begging for war,” is pressing China and other members of the United Nations Security Council to cut off all oil and other fuels to the country.

The effort, which senior administration officials described as a last best chance to resolve the standoff with the North using sanctions rather than military means, came as South Korean officials said Monday that they had seen evidence that North Korea may be preparing another test, likely of an intercontinental ballistic missile….

The call for the fuel cutoff, which is expected to be part of a draft resolution that the United States is beginning to discuss privately with other members of the Security Council, came a day after North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test in the 11 years it has been detonating nuclear weapons.

North Korea is clearly dependent on oil, as obviously all countries are, but as the graphic above this post shows they’ve never had a particular abundance of it anyway, as South Korea is almost entirely lit up, and North Korea nearly all dark in the satellite image.

There was some thought at one point that South Korea might take a softer line on North Korea to try to lower the tension, but that appears not to be happening per this report from Stars and Stripes:

South Korea fired missiles in a mock attack on North Korea’s nuclear test site Monday, a show of force hours after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that the United States would answer any threat from the communist state with a “massive military response.”

International condemnation mounted after North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday at its mountainous Punggye-ri site.

President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter as he left church services on Sunday if he would attack the North. “We’ll see,” he responded.

I’m not a North Korea expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems like this has been years in the coming, and to be honest, I don’t think anything really comes of it.  The Chinese are probably not overly excited by the whole situation either, and they are the ONLY ones who will really have any bargaining power in this.  I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to armed conflict.  Yes, we’d wipe them out, but there would be a lot of casualties in South Korea and elsewhere, not to mention our casualties. 

SecDef Mattis last month warned that any armed conflict would be “catastrophic” in this video, and that remains the case:

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.