In obvious defiance of repeated warnings and threats from the United Nations, North Korea conducted its third and most powerful nuclear weapons test today, just hours before President Barack Obama christens his new term with his State of the Union address. An earthquake was detected in southeast North Korea in the 4.5 to 5.0 magnitude range, but the USGS determined that it was triggered artificially. This led to suspicion that North Korea had actually caused the earthquake by testing a nuclear weapon underground. Sources have now confirmed the act, and the world is buzzing as nations scramble to decide how to handle this latest showing of force and refusal to cooperate by the isolationist nation.
While experts still insist that the test does not represent any imminent danger for the United States in terms of a nuclear strike, it does throw more fuel on a flame that has been burning for decades. North Korea has considered the United States its biggest enemy ever since the Korean War in the early 1950s, and not much has changed in the 2000s and beyond. Now, we can only wait and wonder if President Barack Obama will address the issue in his address before the nation tonight. Obviously, his speech was prepared before anyone could have known this would happen, so if it is addressed, it will be at least moderately on the fly. It would also be responding while the United Nations is still deciding what to do itself.
It is extremely unlikely that the United States or any other nation would attempt any military action toward North Korea at this time. The reason for this is because of North Korea’s strong alliance with China. While the Chinese government has condemned the nuclear tests, it stands by its ally, and many fear that if an open war broke out between North Korea and the United States, China would feel compelled to enter, plunging the Earth into yet another World War. Let’s all hope that this is not the magical formula that could cause such a nightmare scenario.
It is much more likely that the United States will talk a little tougher about sanctions and perhaps even beef up its military presence in the area. However, with Obama reportedly poised to announce the withdrawal of over 34,000 troops from Afghanistan in his address tonight, this might really rain on his good will parade. Many Americans will be worried that the pulling out is only because Obama and the American government know that the warfront is shifting to Iran and North Korea, two of George W. Bush’s infamous “axis of evil.” Keep in mind that the United States keeps more than 28,000 troops in South Korea as a matter of routine. A lot of us back in the mainland tend to think of North Korea as annoying gnat flying in our face, but the reality is that there may not be another region in the world with a more volatile environment and a better chance of starting a World War 3 scenario.