North Korea is fighting fire with fire.
Well, verbally at least.
Hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said that North Korea might face the “fire and fury” of the U.S military, North Korea has hit back with strong words of its own.
President Trump: If North Korea makes any more threats to the U.S., "they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" pic.twitter.com/8dQed79L1W
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2017
KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency, says it is planning missile strikes near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
That sounds a little close to home. Guam is 4,465 kilometres away from central Australia. For perspective, that’s roughly the distance from Perth to Brisbane.
But if the worst did happen, a nuclear strike on Guam would have little effect on Australia.
In The Washington Post report that confirmed North Korea’s possession of nuclear capabilities, it is estimated that North Korea has been testing 20-30 kiloton weapons. These weapons produce a blast twice the size of the bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. According to the Atomic Archive, the blast radius of that bomb was around 1.6 kilometres, with a destruction radius of about 7 square kilometres.
A direct hit on Australia would be a different story but is also highly unlikely.
In July, Euan Graham, the Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program told ABC News that the threat against Australia is low.
The reason for this is twofold: North Korea’s missiles would have trouble reaching a major Australian city and due to our strategic alliance with the U.S., any attack on us would probably result in North Korea getting bombed back to the Middle Ages.
However, Graham did note that Australia doesn’t actually have a missile defence system and that we may be obligated to send in ground troops if, again, the worst happens.
Here is what the article on KCNA Watch, a site that translates stories from KCNA, says about Guam:
The KPA Strategic Force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam including the Anderson Air Force Base in which the U.S. strategic bombers, which get on the nerves of the DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above south Korea, are stationed and to send a serious warning signal to the U.S.
The article goes on to say that the plan will be reported to the Supreme Command, and await Kin Jong Un’s decision.
“The execution of this plan will offer an occasion for the Yankees to be the first to experience the might of the strategic weapons of the DPRK closest,” it continued. “It is a daydream for the U.S. to think that its mainland is an invulnerable Heavenly kingdom.”
The ball is now back in Trump’s court. He has yet to respond yet and is in the midst of a 17-day vacation. Two ridiculous and powerful men with their fingers poised above Big Red Buttons. Regardless of any possible threat to Australia, this is not good.
No idea what the right military strategy is in North Korea, but I worry that Trump might think it's good politics to provoke a conflict.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 8, 2017